Psoriasis is a skin condition in which the life cycle of the cells is sped up. Typically, skin cells grow, then die and slough off over a few weeks. With psoriasis, this process takes only days, and the dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin in raised patches. 80-90% of people with psoriasis experience the plaque form, making it the most experienced type. Psoriasis can happen at any age, so knowing the symptoms and management options early on is vital.
Plaque Psoriasis Symptoms
The buildup on skin cells can appear silvery-white, gray, or darkish purple depending on the color of your skin. These “patches” are called plaques and can develop on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. They are itchy and painful and can crack and bleed. It often develops between the ages of 15 to 35 but can happen at any age, occurring in 10-15% of those under the age of 10.
If you have what you think is a rash that won’t go away with any over-the-counter medications you have tried, then it is time to see your doctor. A dermatologist is best, considering they specialize in many different skin disorders, allowing them to quickly and accurately diagnose the issues. Raised, well-defined, and red areas will be what they are looking for. Most of this time, this can be done with a visual inspection of the affected areas, or they may do a skin biopsy.
Choosing the Right Treatment
The severity of and how long you’ve had your plaque psoriasis usually determine which treatment option(s) you will need to go with. Medications are broken down into the following categories:
- Topical– These come with or without steroids and slow down skin cell growth and reduce inflammation.
- Phototherapy– Under medical supervision, this involves regularly exposing the skin to ultraviolet light.
- Systemic Medications– Systemic medications are taken by mouth, infusion, or injection and work throughout the body. They are typically prescribed for moderate to severe sufferers that have not responded well to other treatments.
Plaque psoriasis remains a complex disease, and although a lot of patients do well on newer interventions, some of these patients relapse due to unknown causes. Work continues to be done through clinical research studies to provide more streamlined and practical options for all ages.
Don’t Be Discouraged
No single psoriasis management therapy works for everyone. Talk with your doctor about your options available and their side effects so that you can make the best possible choice. Many times, a combination of these methods is necessary to provide the best result.
To learn more about the currently enrolling research studies for children and adults at Texas Dermatology, call (210) 728-3919, or click here.