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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Psoriasis

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Psoriasis (Psoriasis vulgaris) is a skin disease that results in red bumps with scaly patches. It is a persistent, long-lasting skin disease. The types of psoriasis are:

  1. Plaque (Psoriasis vulgaris) - most common type of psoriasis. It causes red, dry, slightly raised skin lesions covered with silvery scales. It can be painful and appear anywhere on the body.

  2. Nail psoriasis - it is the abnormal, pitting nail growth and discoloration of fingernails and toenails.

  3. Scalp psoriasis - these are red, itchy scalp with silvery-white scales.

  4. Pustular psoriasis - uncommon type; raised bumps filled with pus in form of patches causing the skin to become red and tender.

  5. Gluttate psoriasis - affects young adults and children; red/pink, small, scaly water-drop shaped lesions that can be seen at large parts of the body.

  6. Inverse psoriasis (flexural/intertriginous psoriasis) - red, smooth inflamed patches around the genitals, armpits, under the breast, between the buttocks in the intergluteal cleft and skin folds over the abdomen (panniculus).

  7. Psoriatic arthritis - psoriasis that caused swollen, painful joints typical of arthritis.
Symptoms
  • Red patches covered with silvery scales
  • Dry, cracked skin prone to bleeding
  • Itchiness, burning or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails and discoloration
  • Small scaling spots in children
  • Swollen and stiff joints
Risk Factors
  • Abnormal immune response in the body that attacks healthy body tissues and cells.
  • Infections (e.g. strep throat, skin infections)
  • Wound injury, bug bites, severe sunburn
  • Stress
  • Smoking, drinking/heavy alcohol consumption
  • Change in weather
  • Certain drug reactions (lithium, beta blockers, antimalarial drugs, iodides)
  • Obesity
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

Topical corticosteroids help reduce skin inflammation by suppressing the immune system. They are grouped according to their potency:

Precaution: Long-term/continuous therapy. Pregnant/nursing women, pediatric patients. Discontinue use if irritation/sensitization develops.

Side effects: Thinning of skin, temporary lightening of skin, skin allergies, adrenal or growth suppression.

  • low potency: desonide, hydrocortisone;
  • medium potency: betamethasone valerate, fluocinolone, fluocinonide, fluticasone, mometasone
  • high potency: betamethasone dipropionate, clobetasol, halobetasol

Vitamin D analogues slow down of skin cell growth. They can be used alone or in combination with other topical medications to help treat mild to moderate psoriasis.

Topical retinoids (tazarotene) decreases skin inflammation by normalizing DNA activity in skin cells.

Precaution: Avoid contact with eyes, eyelids, and mouth, avoid exposure to sunlight. Patients with sunburn should be advised not to use and must be warned to use sunscreen and protective clothes when using tazarotene until fully recovered.

Side effects: Carcinogenic, mutagenesis, teratogenic effects and impairment of fertility.

Salicylic acid has bacteriostatic and keratolytic properties, opens skin pores and promotes shedding of dead skin cells.

Side effects: Darkening of skin, skin irritations.

Drug interactions: Retinoids, solvents with alcohol, oil, acetone.

Coal tar preparations (shampoo, soap, ointment) reduces scaling, itchiness and inflammation, not recommended to pregnant and breast-feeding women.

Omega-3 supplements may reduce skin inflammation.

Topical skin protectants and emollients helps soothes and heal skin, may help ease itchiness, lessens redness or reduce burning sensation.

Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
  • Use skin moisturizer, preferably products with labelled "for sensitive skin" to avoid inflame the affected parts.
  • Aloe vera gel from its leaves helps reduce itchiness, scaling, redness of skin.
  • Olive or vegetable oil helps lock moisture. Apply oil to scales and patches, leave for few minutes then rinse.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in food (nuts, oil, vegetable, fish) can also help reduce psoriasis.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • When taking a bath, avoid using hot water and avoid harsh rubbing/scrubbing.
  • Expose skin to small amount of sunlight.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and quit smoking.

Health Tips

  • Alternative treatment for psoriasis is Light therapy or phototherapy that uses artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. It must be time-controlled to avoid over-exposure and burning of the skin.
Doctors to Consult
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