Lots of people ask lots of questions about psoriasis. Those who have it want to know what to expect and how to get rid of it? Those who live with or sit next to people with psoriasis want to know what it is and if they can "catch it"? Parents of kids, who have it, want to know how to treat it and how to relieve the symptoms. If you have psoriasis, your doctor or dermatologist is your best source of answers. You can also find resources such as handouts and brochures at the medical office. You may also be given a list of books, community resources and Website that contain more information about how to live with psoriasis. There are usually local support groups for people with psoriasis as well as some online support groups too. This article can get you started on some of the basic questions and the answers.
The most asked question is: What is psoriasis and is it contagious?
The answer is: Psoriasis is a skin disease. There are 5 main types of psoriasis:
Psoriasis ranges from mild to severe and can cover a small portion of skin or large areas of your body. Psoriasis can affect individuals of all races, and both males and females. The typical age of onset is between 15 and 35 but you can get psoriasis at any age; even infants can be born with it.
Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis from touching someone who has it or by touching clothing articles or equipment that they touched. Scientists and researchers who have studied psoriasis still do not know exactly what causes it, but they agree that it is genetic in nature.
Is there a cure for psoriasis? And what causes it?
There is no cure. Psoriasis is a long-term disease that someone has for life once it first appears. Psoriasis can be treated and the condition clears only to reappear later. There are "triggers" that seem to flame the appearance of the psoriasis. The triggers can be emotional like stress, fear, anxiety or the trigger can be environmental like pollution, chemicals on the skin from products applied to the skin - no one really knows for sure what triggers psoriasis breakouts. Some scientists believe that flare-ups of psoriasis are linked to bacteria, viruses or other foreign skin invaders such as fungi. They do agree that the nature of psoriasis is heredity and connected to the immune system not working properly.
What are the treatments for Psoriasis?
The 3 main categories of treatments are: topical, light and systemic. Topical treatments are used externally, and applied directly to the skin.
They can include coal tar, anthralin, calcipotriene, salicylic acid, steroids, tazarotene and other applications like moisturizers, bath and shower oils, and nonprescription medications to lubricate and relieve itching. Always check with your dermatologist before using over-the-counter preparations.
Light treatments - These are prescribed by the doctor or dermatologist treating you and involve exposing your skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. Treatments are usually done right in the medical office. Light treatment is usually done when the psoriasis is resistant to topical creams and ointments and is moderate to severe.
Systemic treatments affect your entire body and are usually taken orally. Systemic medications can have serious side effects like liver damage, birth defects, and anemia and also decreased kidney function.
A new class of medications is called: biologic medicines or biologic response modifiers (BRMs). These medications are made from living sources and work on the immune system. These medications are just beginning to be approved for use in psoriasis.