Psoriasis is a very common condition where there is inflammation of the skin. It can occur at any age and typically develops as raised patches (plaques) of red, scaly skin. Once you develop psoriasis it tends to come and go throughout life. A flare-up can occur at any time and the frequency of flare-ups varies. Psoriasis is not contagious. It occurs because a person’s immune system sends wrong signals to skin cells that cause them to grow too quickly. Types of Psoriasis are:
1- Plaque-type psoriasis: Most common type. Patches can be itchy and can appear anywhere on the skin. Most patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp.
2- Guttate Psoriasis: Small, red scaly spots appearing on the trunk, arms and legs like an eruption usually after illness, especially strep throat. They may also appear in a person already having plaque type psoriasis.
3- Pustular Psoriasis: Affected skin is red, swollen and dotted with pus-filled bumps. Sometimes, pus-filled bumps appear only on the palms and soles. Affected skin is usually painful and sore.
4- Inverse Psoriasis: Smooth red patches at skin folds like groins, armpits and under breasts. Skin becomes raw and feels very sore.
5- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This is seen when most or the entire skin surface is red and flaky. This is an emergency as body is unable to maintain normal temperature and there is abnormally increased load on heart. This can also cause serious metabolic disturbances like fluid and electrolyte imbalances. This can occur in pre-existing psoriasis or as the first manifestation.
Psoriasis can also affect nails by causing pitting, discoloration, thickening of nail plates and separation of nail plate from nail bed. Psoriasis can also involve joints and cause arthritis.
Treatment: It is important to understand that psoriasis cannot be cured. However, treatment to control the disease is necessary. There are wide treatment options in the armamentarium of dermatologists including topical agents (Corticosteroids, Coaltar, Dithranol, Retinoids, Vitamin D analogs), phototherapy (PUVA, Narrow Band UVB) and systemic agents (Retinoids, Methotrexate, Ciclosporin, Biological therapies – Infliximab, Etanercept, Adalimumab, Ustekinumab, Alefacept). Choice of therapy depends on patient profile, extent/type of disease, complications, co-existing conditions etc. Having wide experience in treating patients of psoriasis, we can develop a treatment strategy that is most suitable for the patient by using one or more of the above-mentioned therapies