If you are living with the skin condition known as psoriasis, you may feel like hiding instead of meeting your friends to have a good time. Understanding psoriasis is the beginning of taking control and managing its effects. There is no cure, but there are a variety of treatment options, depending on your specific type of psoriasis.
What Kind Do I Have?
As reported by the National Psoriasis Foundation, there are five types of psoriasis, each with its own distinct identifiers as follows:
- Plaque psoriasis – is the most common form and appears mostly on the lower back, knees, elbows and scalp. These red, raised patches often itch and are painful.
- Guttate psoriasis – is the second most common, which about 10 percent of people with psoriasis develop.
- Inverse psoriasis – may appear along with another type in other parts of the body. These red lesions appear in body folds such as the armpits and groin.
- Pustular psoriasis – is noted to have white blisters with pus. Although it may have the appearance of an infection, it is neither infectious nor contagious.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis – is a very rare type of psoriasis, occurring only in 3 percent of people with psoriasis. While severe itching and pain is likely present, the perimeter of the lesions is not well defined.
Who Can Tell Me What Is Going On?
Since most cases of psoriasis are diagnosed by looking at the condition of your skin, your primary care physician can usually give a firm diagnosis just by observation. If other symptoms are present, such as joint pain, your doctor may send you to a specialist for further evaluation. Psoriasis is thought to be a condition of the immune system. The Mayo Clinic reports that the most likely risk factor for psoriasis is a family history of the disease. Other possible causes include stress, infections, obesity and smoking.
What Are Treatment Options?
With the goal of controlling your symptoms and preventing infection, the National Institutes of Health has outlined the three treatment options available:
- Topical treatments – such as cortisone creams, ointments containing coal tar, dandruff shampoos, and prescription medicines that contain vitamin D or A
- Systemic treatments – with medicines such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, Humira and Remicade
- Phototherapy – which is exposing the skin to ultraviolet light
Comfort measures include a daily bath or shower, oatmeal baths, taking in a little sunlight and limiting alcohol.
For more information you can also contact a doctor that specializes in treating this condition, like Henry D. McKinney M.D.