What to Do About Psoriasis

A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that around 7.4 million Americans are dealing with psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that builds up skin cells rapidly, which can cause dryness, scaling, itching, inflammation, redness, cracking, and even bleeding. It can develop anywhere on the body, but often happens on the neck, hands, feet, face, and scalp.

The condition isn’t curable, but you can get treatment to manage the symptoms and get on with your life. Dr. Javier Zelaya and the staff at Skinworks Dermatology, with three New York City locations, offer a variety of solutions to help with psoriasis and many other skin conditions.

Understanding psoriasis

The cause of psoriasis isn’t yet known, but research suggests it’s tied to genetics and your immune system. 

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body is attacking itself by producing the excess skin cells. These reproduce so quickly that they’re pushed to the skin’s surface, where they collect and cause the disease’s complications.

Genetics can also lead to psoriasis. If someone in your immediate family has it, you’re more likely to as well.

Psoriasis comes in different types, and plaque psoriasis is the most common, affecting about 80% of people who have psoriasis. 

Treatments

Here are treatment options for managing your psoriasis:

Topical solutions

The most common method of treating mild to moderate psoriasis is with corticosteroids. It can come as an ointment, cream, lotion, gel, foam, or shampoo. It’s typically applied once a day, and extended use can thin the skin. 

Topical synthetic forms of vitamin D can also slow down skin growth, and can be used with other topical treatments. Other topical solutions include retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar, and anthralin. 

Oral and injected solutions

Moderate to severe cases of psoriasis can be managed with stronger medications in oral or injected form. Because of possible severe side effects, many of these are only short-term treatments. These include steroids, retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and biologics.

Light therapy

Another option for moderate to severe psoriasis is light therapy, which can be used in combination with other treatments. The treatment consists of controlled exposure to specific amounts of artificial or natural light. 

Sunlight, UVB broadband or narrowband, psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), and excimer laser are examples of the types of light therapy available.

Lifestyle changes

Living with psoriasis means trying to control the things that increase the chances of an outbreak.

A healthy diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and plants can go a long way to reduce the chances of a flare-up. Refined sugars, processed foods, and dairy foods can increase the chances of a psoriasis outbreak, so carefully monitor your intake. 

Weight loss can also reduce the severity of psoriasis as well as cutting down on your consumption of alcohol.

Since stress can also trigger the condition, meditation, controlled breathing, and yoga can help relieve the stress that leads to flare-ups. Talking with your family about what you’re going through can help; if you’re dealing with psoriasis, depression and self-esteem issues are likely. 

If you have psoriasis, it doesn’t have to control your life. Make an appointment with Dr. Zelaya and Skinworks Dermatology by calling one of their locations in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope, or book online today.

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