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Understanding Psoriasis

Mar 5, 2008
Psoriasis is a common skin condition which affects over 2% of the population in the United States. Typically featured as patchy, raised, red areas of skin inflammation with scaling, psoriasis often affects the tips of the elbows and knees, the scalp, navel, and around the anus and genital areas.

Over 10% of psoriasis patients also develop an associated inflammation of their joints which often is diagnosed as having psoriatic arthritis. About 1 in 10 people with psoriasis will also develop inflammation of joints.

Psoriatic arthritis is part of a group of arthritis that is more then likly to cause inflammation of the spine. Why this happens is currently unknown, but more then likely a combination of genetic and immune factors as well as environmental factors, are involved.

Psoriatic arthritis can often occur in men and women that are over the age of fifty,it also affects both sexes equally. Psoriasis and arthritis will often appear at different times as the arthritis may precede the psoriasis in the most of patients. Some patients may have had arthritis for over twenty years before psoriasis develops.

People with psoriatic arthritis can also develop inflammation of tendons, cartilage, eyes, lining of the lungs, and occasionally the aorta. Psoriatic arthritic can also look like the pattern seen with rheumatoid arthritis.

There are many different treatments available to help control psoriasis. Some can be found over the counter at a drugstore while others require a prescription. No single treatment works for everyone so the goal is to find a treatment that works the best for each individual case with the fewest side effects.

The most commonly prescribed treatments for psoriasis is topical corticosteroids . Which is synthetic drugs that are a bit like naturally occurring hormones in the body that are available in different strengths and formulations that cludes lotions, creams, solutions, sprays, gels, and ointments.

The way that corticosteroids act is by slowing down skin cells growth and then decreasing the inflammation patients with psoriasis, lesions. It must be noted that corticosteroids may quickly clear lesions, they do not produce long term remissions so it must be said that lesions associated with psoriasis may come back within a short time. Some side effects include stretch marks or scars on the skin.

Topical therapies have remained the mainstay of treatment for many patients suffering with mild psoriasis. Topical treatments work relatively quickly at clearing lesions and are typically well tolerated by the majority of psoriasis sufferers.

Nevertheless, topical treatments must be used frequently to stay successful and are often not able to preserve remission of an outbreak. Dithranol is a topical therapy which has been used often to calm psoriasis. It can be successful for mild to moderate psoriasis and is often used with ultraviolet treatments for patients with more harsh psoriasis.

There are some key issues which limit the use of Dithranol as it can cause irritation and burning to the skin and tends to stain anything it comes in contact with.

While complementary and alternative treatments are becoming more common, it is important to note that to date they have not been tested and studied to the same extent as conventional medical treatments. But as more people have been active partners in their treatment of psoriasis, interest in alternative medicine has grown by leaps and bounds
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