Suffering from Psoriasis? You are not alone, and doctors all over the world are searching for the next best treatment strategies. The most common symptoms of psoriasis are scaling, itching, and skin redness, sometimes covering more than 10% of the body.
But the negative impact of psoriasis reaches far beyond the skin – psoriasis patients have also reported emotional distress, including frustration with their therapies, difficulties working and socializing, and even depression.¹ That is why we have created a list of the best prevention and treatment strategies to help you cope with this uncomfortable condition.
Is Psoriasis Contagious?
No. Psoriasis is not contagious, but this isn’t the only misconception that many people have about the skin condition. The condition is also frequently misdiagnosed. Doctors often mistake psoriasis symptoms for poison ivy or eczema.¹ Unlike these other conditions, researchers believe that Psoriasis is genetic, meaning that the likelihood of developing the condition is passed to you by your parents or ancestors. Flare-ups of the condition are then caused by triggers.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The National Psoriasis Foundation has identified multiple possible triggers that might be causing your psoriasis: stress, diet, allergies, and changes in the weather are among some of the potential triggers. Psoriasis may also appear on areas of the skin that have been injured, or it may develop after a major infection, such as strep throat, bronchitis, tonsillitis, respiratory disease, or an earache. Certain medications, including Lithium, Inderal, Quinidine, Indomethacin, and drugs used to cure or prevent malaria have also been found to trigger psoriasis.²
If you have suffered from psoriasis in the past or are worried that you might develop it, there are multiple prevention measures that you can take. Managing your triggers is the first step in prevention. For example, if stress might be a factor, make sure to take time to de-stress on a daily basis, whether that might involve taking yoga classes, meditating, or attending therapy sessions. If you believe that your diet might be contributing to your psoriasis outbreaks, cutting out potential trigger foods is imperative. In addition, you should consider taking measures to protect your skin, such as wearing gloves and avoiding skin irritants.³
Common Psoriasis Treatments
In a survey conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2007, almost 40% of respondents suffering from psoriasis reported that they were not receiving treatment for their condition.⁴ In another survey, 78% of patients with severe psoriasis reported feelings of frustration that their treatment is not working well enough or is not helping to make the condition more manageable.¹ As a result, knowing the various different types of treatments that are commonly prescribed to psoriasis patients may be help you determine which might be best for you.
Topical therapy treatments are applied directly to skin affected by psoriasis, and work to ease the discomfort caused by the condition. Commonly prescribed topical treatments include topical corticosteroids, topical vitamin D analogues, corticosteroid combination products, and topical tar. However, other topical treatments may also be natural remedies found around the home, like colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera.
It may come as a surprise, but light therapy is an effective treatment for psoriasis. This form of treatment involves regularly exposing the skin to an artificial Ultraviolet B light source for a set amount of time, which slows the growth of cells affected by psoriasis. Often, it is administered at the doctor’s office, but it doesn’t have to be. Phototherapy units can also be installed at home.⁵
One of the most common forms of phototherapy is Red Light Therapy or RTL. This is a non invasive treatment that uses LED light to ease psoriasis symptoms.
Another very similar solution is the UV light therapy. It is usually received around three times a week in a hospital, in special cabins. There are also portable lamps that can be used for a few parts of the body only.
Medications, including Oral Treatments and Biologics
Oral treatments and Biologics are typically not prescribed to psoriasis sufferers unless their symptoms are severe. If you are interested in the different types of medications available for psoriasis, talk to your doctor about your options, and make sure to learn about any potential risks or side effects associated with each medication before you start treatment.
Oral treatments include pills or other forms of medicine that you take by mouth in order to treat psoriasis symptoms. Most of these medications work to decrease the body’s immune response, which is part of the mechanism behind psoriasis flare ups. ⁶
Biologics are medications made from human, animal, or bacteria cells, which target the immune system in order to decrease inflammation experienced by skin suffering from psoriasis. Biologics are typically only recommended if a patient is experiencing severe psoriasis or have not responded to previous treatment strategies. They may require injection via a shot to the abdomen or leg or may even involve an IV infusion.⁷
Again, before taking any new medications to treat your symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor and review all potential risks.
1. G Krueger et al. “The Impact of Psoriasis on Quality of Life: Results of a 1998 National Psoriasis Foundation Patient-Membership Survey.” Arch Dermatol 137, no. 3 . (2001), pp. 280–284. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-137-3-dst0024.
4. Elizabeth J.Horn PhD, et al. “Are Patients with Psoriasis Undertreated? Results of National Psoriasis Foundation Survey.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 57, no. 6 (December 2007), pp 957-962. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2007.06.042