What is Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune inflammatory condition that usually appears as lesions or patches of raised red skin covered by flaky, white buildups called “scales”. The red or pink colored patches are often rough to the touch.

There are several types of psoriasis and psoriasis can appear almost anywhere on the body, but is most commonly found on the knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, palms and soles of the feet.

What causes psoriasis?
It is believed that psoriasis is related to faulty signals in your body’s immune system. These signals accelerate the growth of skin cells that can’t be shed fast enough, so the cells build up and form the elevated red lesions, scales, and plaques.

Psoriasis is not contagious. Individuals affected have a genetic tendency toward this condition which is likely triggered by environmental factors such as emotional stress, infection (such as strep throat), certain medications, or trauma to the skin.  Sun exposure suppresses the immune system and some patients may experiences flares during the winter season when they get less sun exposure.

Can anyone get psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a very common skin condition that affects more than 7.5 million people in the United States. There is likely a genetic predisposition as we sometimes see it run in families.  It often develops between the ages of 15 or 35. By age 40, 75% of those who will develop psoriasis have already had it. The next most common time to develop psoriasis is between 50-60 years of age.  Infants and young children are more likely to get inverse psoriasis (in skin folds such as the armpit or groin) or guttate psoriasis.

Psoriasis outside of the skin:
Today there is increasing evidence to substantiate that psoriasis is not just a disease of the skin but a systemic inflammatory condition.  Psoriasis can also affect the joints causing inflammation inside the joints leading to pain, redness, and swelling. This is called psoriatic arthritis. It affects approximately 10-30% of those with skin psoriasis. It is important to identify and treat this form of arthritis as it could lead to joint deformity and disability if left untreated.  If you are experiencing any pain in your joints please let your provider know.

Patients with psoriasis may also have increased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and lymphoma. It is important to see your general doctor for regular physicals.  Eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking and drinking very little alcohol may help, as it known that smoking, drinking and being overweight worsen psoriasis.

What is the treatment for psoriasis?
There are many different treatments for psoriasis including topical medications, oral medications, phototherapy and biological medications. Bakal Dermatology Associates is one of the few dermatology offices in the Chicagoland area that offers a phototherapy department. Phototherapy is a very safe and effective treatment which exposes the skin to a particular wavelength of light that slows the rapid growth of skin cells.  We offer both a narrowband phototherapy booth that is able to treat the entire body at once and an excimer laser that can target smaller areas that have been unresponsive to topical treatments. Biological medications are medications that are often injected into the skin and block the inflammatory cascade that causes psoriasis. They are most often used in patients that have a large body surface area affected or psoriatic arthritis.

As there are many different treatments options that vary based on the type and severity of one’s psoriasis your practitioner will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.