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Psoriasis Treatment for Sore, Scaly, Patchy, Red or Irritated Skin

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common immune disease that affects active cells inside your body. Moderate to severe plaque psoriasis is chronic and autoimmune which means it is visible to the naked eye on the body. Psoriasis, however, begins on the inside of the body in the immune system.

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. The immune system’s cells connect with each other by chemical signals. These excess skin cells accumulate and their rapid turnover creates thick and flaky dry patches on the surface of the skin. One of the most frustrating characteristics of psoriasis is that flare-ups occur unexpectedly amid periods of mild symptoms. Those with psoriasis are unable to predict when their condition may worsen. Psoriasis can range in comfort level from mildly irritating to severely painful. For some people, psoriasis is a mild nuisance. For others, it can be disabling, affecting extensive areas of skin for long periods. In severe cases, psoriasis occurs with a distinct type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.

Which type of psoriasis do I have?

What are the most common symptoms of psoriasis?

Individuals facing symptoms of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis may observe red patches covered with thick silver scales. Also, the skin can be so dry that it itches or bleeds. The skin can also feel tight, sore or a burning sensation.

What are the main differences between moderate and severe plaque psoriasis?

Severe plaque psoriasis is increasingly difficult to live with. The constant sensation of itchy, skaly, and painful skin can be problematic. Severe psoriasis is considered the standard if more than 10% of your body is affected or if you have large surface areas on your face, palms of your hands or on your feet. Psoriasis is considered moderate if it cannot be improved by medication. 

Mild psoriasis is generally when you have isolated patches on your scalp or limbs. If medication improves your condition, it is mild psoriasis.

What types of treatments are available for psoriasis?

Though psoriasis is incurable, the symptoms can be reduced through a variety of topical and systemic treatments. With care managed by an expert dermatologist, most patients experience relief from flare-ups in 85% to 90% of cases. When considering treatment for psoriasis, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each treatment against their list of side effects. Psoriasis treatments are extremely powerful, and many are associated with a high occurrence of side effects.

Steroid Creams

Steroid creams are the first line of defense against psoriasis. They decrease inflammation, relieve itching, and block the overproduction of skin cells. When patients experience their first flare up, steroid creams are the primary method of treatment.

Vitamin D

Calcipotriene, also known as vitamin D, comes in ointment form. It is proven to be effective for treating psoriasis, especially when combined with a topical steroid cream.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoid creams contain a synthetic form of vitamin A which can reduce psoriasis symptoms. Though results are slower with retinoids than with steroid creams, retinoids cause fewer side effects.

Coal Tar Ointments and Shampoos

Coal Tar belongs to a class of drugs known as keratoplastics. It works by causing the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of new skin cells, resulting in a reduction of itchiness, scaling, and dryness. In most patients, Coal Tar causes a mild side effect of pimple-like rashes. Though this can be easily managed, it’s a factor to consider when choosing this treatment. Since many people prefer to avoid steroids and are often unable to use retinoids long-term, Coal Tar treatments may be one of the only topical options for some patients.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid ointment smooths the skin by promoting the shedding of psoriatic scales. It is ideal for flare-ups on all body parts except the head and scalp, because it may weaken hair shafts leading to hair breakage and temporary hair loss.

Injectable Medications

Injectable medications called biologics use human or animal proteins to control the body’s overactive immune response that causes excess cell production. These medications are highly effective, but they also have a considerable list of potential side effects.

Methotrexate and cyclosporine, also used as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and for various forms of arthritis, dramatically clear psoriasis. However, they are only used for severe cases due to the associated side effects.

Oral medications such as SOTYKTU are also available to treat moderate to severe psoriasis in adults. It is a once-daily oral pill that is FDA-approved. It works by selectively targeting TYK2 signals (which is a molecule in your immune system).

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