August marks Psoriasis Awareness Month. Psoriasis is an immune mediated disease, which means it is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. This process is driven by over secreted inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines can cause itch, scaling, and burning plaques as well as joint pain and swelling.
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey discovered that 6.7 million adults aged 20 and up are affected by psoriasis. There are five different forms of psoriasis; plaque, guttate, pustular, inverse, and erythrodermic. Regardless of type, psoriasis is not contagious, but it is a genetic disease that can be passed down through families.
Body part commonly affected by psoriasis
- Penis or vulva
Symptoms of psoriasis
- Joint pain, limited movement
- Itchy or irritated skin
- Change in nail color and/or shape
- Patches of thick red/dark brown skin and slivery/gray scales
The level of degree you are affected by psoriasis determines how it can be treated. Psoriasis can be treated with topical medicines, phototherapy, and immune system treatment.
Topical medicines include creams and ointments that can be directly applied to affected areas. Moisturizers, steroids, vitamin D, retinoids, and other non-steroid medicines are commonly used to treat psoriasis. This type of treatment is helpful if you have small areas of skin affected by psoriasis.
Phototherapy or “light therapy” is when your healthcare provider uses ultraviolet lights or other light sources to treat your psoriasis.
Immune system treatment is when you use prescribe medicines such as biologics or systemic medications to disrupt the abnormal cytokine production and normalize the skin.
Additional ways to manage your symptoms
Consider taking a bath as warm baths can help soften scales. Adding bath oil, bath salts, or colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath will also assist in soothing your skin. Make sure to lotion and moisturize your damp or wet skin immediately after taking a bath.
Manage your stress levels and use different methods to relax to prevent any flare-ups.
A few minutes of natural sunlight can ease any inflammation and slow down skin growth.
Avoid abrasive cleansers, harsh detergents, household chemicals, too much sunlight, hot packs as these may cause flare-ups or skin damage. Scratching too much, dry weather, poor diet, allergies can also trigger your psoriasis and make it worse.
Coping and support
Stress and depression can be side effects of psoriasis. You may want to hide your skin or isolate yourself and avoid being seen. Psoriasis interfere with your quality of life. Consider seeking therapy to help you address your feelings toward your skin and to discover ways for you to cope. Support groups can also help you meet other people who are managing the same issues or concerns.
Talk with your healthcare provider today to discover treatment options available for you.
Test your knowledge on psoriasis by taking the Psoriasis Quiz.
Dr. Boh is board certified through the American Academy of Dermatology. She has been on the faculty for her entire academic career and currently she is chair of department of Dermatology and holds the Joseph Chastain Endowed chair of Clinical Dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine.
Dr Boh has served on the AAD Board of Directors 2016-2020 and on the medical board for the National Psoriasis Foundation. She received the Outstanding Physician-Clinician award from the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2018. She serves on the executive committee of the Louisiana Dermatology Society and the Zola Cooper Society.
Dr Boh has served on multiple committees and task forces of the AAD. She has conducted many clinical trials and numerous chapters and publications on psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and lymphoma. At the local level, she is on the executive faculty at Tulane, the medical executive faculty of Tulane Hospital and she is a senator in the University Senate, representing the medical school in university affairs. She is active in medical student and resident education. She has received Best Doctors in Louisiana, Best Doctors in New Orleans and Top Doctors in America Awards for the last 17 years.
She earned a BS in Biological Science from Auburn University. She earned a Master’s Degree and PhD in Biochemistry from Tulane University in New Orleans. She received a Fellowship from the American Heart Association and earned her MD from Tulane University School of Medicine. Dr. Boh completed her dermatology residency at the University of Texas Southwestern.