Psoriasis is one of the most common skin care afflictions today, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Most common in those ages 15-35, psoriasis generally shows itself as red patches of skin with white, flaky scales, typically appearing on the elbows, knees and midsection. Though a genetic disease, psoriasis is not contagious. Those diagnosed with the disease can undergo a variety of treatments including topicals, light therapies, lasers (such as Xtrac Ultra Photomedex), biologics(such as Stelara, Enbrel and Humira), and gels to ease discomfort and aid in appearance.
Psoriasis (sore-EYE-ah-sis) is a chronic, long-lasting disease. It develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks. The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear.
Psoriasis may look contagious, but it’s not. To get psoriasis, a person must inherit the genes that cause it.
Plaque Psoriasis (also called psoriasis vulgaris)
- Raised reddish patches on the skin called plaque (plak).
- Patches may be covered with a silvery-white coating, which dermatologists call scale.
- Patches can appear anywhere on the skin.
- Most patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp.
- Patches can itch.
- Scratching the itchy patches often causes the patches to thicken.
- Patches vary in size and can appear as separate patches or join together to cover a large area.
- Nail problems — pits in the nails, crumbling nail, nail falls off.
- Small, red spots (usually on the trunk, arms, and legs but can appear on the scalp, face, and ears)
- Spots can show up all over the skin
- Spots often appear after an illness, especially strep throat
- Spots may clear up in a few weeks or months without treatment
- Spots may appear where the person had plaque psoriasis
- Skin red, swollen, and dotted with pus-filled bumps
- Bumps usually appear only on the palms and soles
- Soreness and pain where the bumps appear
- Pus-filled bumps will dry, and leave behind brown dots and/or scale on the skin
If pus-filled bumps appear all over the body, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger. When pus-filled bumps cover the body, the person also may have:
- Bright-red skin
- Feel sick and exhausted
- Severe itching
- Rapid pulse
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
This systemic approach to treating psoriasis includes popular prescription medications such as Enbrel, Humira, Stelera and Remicade. These drugs suppress the immune system and are typically administered via injection or infusion.
Xtrac Ultra Photomedex
XTrac Ultra Photomedex concentrates light on active psoriasis outbreaks, delivering high therapeutic doses that clear skin without harming healthy skin. The laser utilizes a narrow UVB band that is targeted, painless and highly effective. A relatively new treatment, XTrac has been available to psoriasis sufferers since 2000, but has quickly become one of the foremost therapy options.