Psoriasis is a chronic, auto-immune disease that can affect the skin and body in many different ways. Plaque psoriasis sufferers experience an accelerated growth cycle of their skin cells causing them to build up on the surface of the skin. This process results in patches of thickened skin that may crack or become inflamed. While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are various treatments that can improve the severity of symptoms or dissipate them altogether. It is not quite known what exactly causes psoriasis in people but it is understood that both hereditary and environmental factors may be key.
Our very own Ashley Heinly, PA-C explains some of the common misconceptions about psoriasis and offers her expertise on some of the treatment options available to patients.
What are some of the most common misconceptions about psoriasis?
One of the most common misconceptions about psoriasis, especially plaque psoriasis is that it is contagious. Some patients that may not know much about it are worried they could pass it to family members or friends. Another common misconception is that there are no effective treatments beyond creams and ointments.
Is it possible for patients to live entirely symptom free or should they manage their expectations when it comes to treatment?
I believe it is possible within reason, yes. With today’s treatment approaches, it is very possible for a patient to live a healthy and normal life without issues. It just depends on finding the right treatment for the patient as everyone’s body is different.
Can psoriasis have long term effects?
Yes. Because it is a chronic disease there can be long term systemic effects such as uncurable joint pain or permanent damage to the cardiovascular system which are two very good reasons to seek treatment as soon as you can.
What are some of the common concerns that psoriasis patients come to you with during their appointment?
The biggest concern that patients talk to me about is embarrassment regarding plaques in more sensitive areas such as the face or genitals. In addition, there can be concerns about how to manage day to day in their houses when their skin is flaking on their clothes, sheets, etc. Some areas can be tender and painful if they are cracked and irritated.
Do you have any recommendations regarding lifestyle changes for patients suffering from psoriasis?
Overall, maintaining a healthy diet and weight can have great positive effects. Having a good Primary Care Provider to help monitor any conditions such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, High Blood Pressure, Psoriatic Arthritis can be a big win. Limiting alcohol intake and smoking can also help.
What do the varying treatment levels typically look like from mild to severe cases?
For minor cases such as a few plaques on the arms or trunk we usually put the patient on some creams or topical steroids to help get them under control. We can also prescribe Calcipotriene to help thin out the plaques along with a vitamin D cream or salicylic acid washes. For more moderate cases we can prescribe Methotrexate and there are great Biologics out there.
Some patients may want opt to stick to simpler methods to help control their plaques. For severe cases or when plaques are in more sensitive areas, we can give them topical steroids to help get the areas to a more manageable point. Because topical steroids can thin and discolor the skin over long term use, we like to explore other long term options such as Biologics or Methotrexate.
If you suffer from a psoriatic condition and are searching for manageable treatment options, schedule a consultation with one of our skilled providers today. With eight locations across Middle Tennessee, we can help you live a more symptom free life. Our patients are part of the SSD Family and we love giving back in any way that we can! Do you have a psoriasis story that you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you! Send your story or photos to: email@example.com