With over 3 million cases a year in the United States, psoriasis is an extremely common skin condition. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the skin condition. Plaque psoriasis appears on the skin as raised and red patches with a silvery buildup of skin cells that are itchy, painful and can also bleed and crack.
What is Plaque Psoriasis?
Chronic plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the skin disorder psoriasis. While the exact cause of psoriasis is not clear, there is a clear genetic link. About 30 % of people affected with plaque psoriasis have a first-degree relative with the skin condition. There are certain risk factors that make some people susceptible to developing plaque psoriasis over others. Those factors include stress and certain types of medication. Plaque psoriasis presents on the skin as red, inflamed and scaly patches. The patches are often extremely itchy and uncomfortable.
Plaque Psoriasis Symptoms
How do you know if you have plaque psoriasis? When you have a rash with red and raised scales on the skin that doesn’t go away when treated with an over the counter medicated cream, it’s time to head to the dermatologist for an appointment to look into what’s really going on. The most common areas on the body to develop plaque psoriasis are scalp, lower back, palms of the hands and soles of the feet, the face, knees and elbows. The difference between psoriasis and eczema is that the skin with psoriasis patients often appears inflamed and thicker. While the clinical appearance of the skin lesions can help determine the diagnosis of psoriasis, often times, the dermatologist will need to perform a biopsy to determine if the rash is indeed psoriasis and to distinguish it from other types of skin diseases. While psoriasis is not a life-threatening disease, it can affect the overall mental health of the patients afflicted with the skin disease. Some patients can experience depression and anxiety with their psoriasis, which is why finding the right treatment is essential for your overall well-being.
Plaque Psoriasis Treatment
There are both topical, oral and light-based in-office treatments for plaque psoriasis. The best way to determine your treatment plan is to partner with a dermatologist. “Over recent years, doctors have been learning tremendous amounts about the causes of psoriasis on a cellular level,” says Schweiger Dermatology Group’s Dr. Jeremy Fenton. “We now understand more about the pathways involved in the process, and have been able to develop drugs that block the relevant points in the pathway. This has led to the use of biologic drugs that more selectively target psoriasis, many giving excellent results.” Light therapy as a drug-free option has expanded as well. The excimer laser is designed to deliver a much larger and focused dose of ultraviolet light, giving great results without the need to expose the entire body. The excimer laser allows us to be more aggressive, because we aren’t exposing the entire body. One of the most recent addition to our options for treating psoriasis is a new oral medication called Otezla (apremilast). This is medication that blocks a specific enzyme called phosphodiesterase -4. The great thing about this is that it provides an option for patients that is very effective, doesn’t suppress the immune system, and doesn’t require injections. Another relatively new addition in the last 10 years is the excimer laser, but it has gained popularity in just the last 5 years). This device delivers a focused beam of high-energy ultraviolet light to treat problem areas of psoriasis without exposing the whole body. It is a great drug-free option with minimal risk of side effects.
Chronic Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis never really goes away and there is no cure, which classifies it as a chronic skin condition. The hope is that with the proper treatment, plaque psoriasis can go into remission. Since complete disappearance of the plaques may not be possible, the goal of treatment for plaque psoriasis is to see improvement in the skin condition. It’s key to team up with a dermatologist to determine the proper treatment for your specific skin. No two people have the same skin type, which means that everybody’s treatment for plaque psoriasis is going to be different. It’s essential for those with chronic plaque psoriasis to have realistic expectations and work with their healthcare provider to find a solution and treatment that they can be happy with.