Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect the skin and joints.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect the skin and joints. In the skin, psoriasis produces red, scaly lesions. In the most common form of psoriasis, lesions typically appear on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but can appear anywhere on the body. The disease is chronic, meaning that it is a long-term condition with frequent reoccurrences.
Less common forms of psoriasis affect the palms, soles of the feet, armpits, groin, fingernails and toenails.
There are also rare types of psoriasis, such as;
Pustular psoriasis – characterised by small bumps (filled with yellow material) on the palms and soles or over the entire skin surface.
Guttate psoriasis – characterised by small, drop-like red lesions with scale that form over large parts of the skin surface.
Erythrodermic psoriasis – when the entire surface of the skin becomes red and scaly.
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis caused by psoriasis. It mainly affects the joints of the hands, but can affect other joints as well. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis of the skin also have psoriatic arthritis.
The diagnosis of psoriasis is usually made on the basis of physical exam and medical history. A skin biopsy may also be necessary to determine the exact type of psoriasis.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It can also arise because of an infection, such as strep throat, certain medications (such as lithium, antimalarial drugs, interferons, and beta-blockers), and abruptly stopping use of steroids.
Psoriasis can also arise in irritated skin or wounds, an occurrence called Koebner phenomenon.
What are the treatments for psoriasis?
It is important to understand there is no cure for psoriasis but there are a number of treatments for the symptoms.
Mild cases can be treated with topical treatments such as corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar, intralesional steroid injections and moisturisers.
For more extensive disease, treatment options include ultraviolet light phototherapy or systemic medications. Ultraviolet light therapy uses broadband or narrow-band ultraviolet light B (UVB), or psoralen and ultraviolet light A (PUVA). This approach can be used on its own or in combination with topical or systemic medications.
Oral medications for psoriasis include methotrexate, cyclosporine, and apremilast.
Injectable medications, also known as biologics, can be very effective. These include adalimumab (Humira®), etanercept (Enbrel®), golimumab (Simponi®), infliximab (Remicade®), ustekinumab (Stelara®), secukinumab (Cosentyx®), ixekizumab (Taltz®), brodalumab (Siliq®), guselkumab (Tremfya®), and tildrakizumab (Ilumya®). These injections can be given to you at Kinvara Private Hospital.
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