The most common symptom of psoriasis for Chesterfield patients is a distinctive skin rash, which can appear as a red, dot-like irritation; fiery, crimson-colored lesions in the folds of the skin; or scaly patches that itch, crack, and bleed. These rashes most commonly appear on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but they can show up anywhere on the body—including the face.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means there is no cure. Its symptoms, however, can be managed and mitigated. Topical or oral medications are typically effective solutions for reducing the severity of flare-ups, but each individual’s skin is unique in how it reacts. Sometimes, more work is required to develop a lasting solution.
Symptoms and Treatment for Affected Areas
Psoriasis is an incredibly varied disease. It can present with only a mild rash that isn’t easily noticed, or it can present with significant areas of the skin covered in a painful rash. Scalp psoriasis is less noticeable, but can be more difficult to treat with a topical cream. Rashes on the face can have a stigmatizing effect, and the condition almost always involves a rash on other parts of the body as well. As facial skin is more sensitive, different types of treatments may be considered. Be aware that some topical steroids can cause shininess and enlarged capillaries after long-term use on the face.
Types of Psoriasis
There are five distinct types of this skin disorder:
- Plaque Psoriasis (Psoriasis Vulgaris) – About 80 percent of all psoriasis sufferers get this form of the disease. It appears as inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery-white scales.
- Guttate Psoriasis – This form of rash appears as small, red, dot-like spots, usually on the trunk or limbs. It occurs most frequently among children and young adults and is often in response to some other health problem or environmental trigger, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, or injury to the skin.
- Inverse Psoriasis – This type of rash appears as bright red lesions that are smooth and shiny. It is usually found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in skin folds around the genitals and buttocks.
- Pustular Psoriasis – This condition looks like white blisters filled with pus surrounded by red skin. It can appear in a limited area of the skin or all over the body. The pus is made up of white blood cells and is not infectious. Triggers include overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, irritating topical treatments, stress, infections, and sudden withdrawal from systemic (treating the whole body) medications.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis – One of the most inflamed forms of this disease, erythrodermic psoriasis looks like fiery, red skin covering large areas of the body, causing shedding in white sheets instead of flakes. This form is usually very itchy and may cause some pain. Triggers for this type include severe sunburn, infection, pneumonia, medications, or abrupt withdrawal from systemic skin treatment.
More Facts and Info
The National Psoriasis Foundation urges people with this disorder to work with their doctors to watch for the potential onset of any health issues related to this disease. Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting approximately 7.5 million Americans. Genetics and the immune system play a major role in the disease. It is not contagious.
In people with this condition, the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth of skin cells. More than just an unsightly and irritating skin rash, it also increases the risk for other serious health conditions. These include psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, obesity, and depression.
When to See the Doctor for Treatment
While there is no cure for psoriasis, many treatment options are available. Treatment is individualized for each person and depends on the severity of the disease, the type, the affected area, and how the person reacts to certain treatments. For cases that fail to respond to topical treatment and oral medications—or for other individual reasons—photodynamic therapy is another popular option. Alternatives may be prescribed for severe, treatment-resistant cases.
Like many disorders, symptoms can also change over time. If your normal treatment has stopped working or is creating serious side effects, it’s time to see a dermatologist. Don’t rely on generalized treatment advice. Only by talking to a certified dermatologist experienced in medical dermatology will you develop a personalized plan based on your experience.
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Dr. Blattel is the best I've been seeing her for 10+ years!