Psoriasis is classified as a chronic skin condition. Psoriasis produces scaly, rough and white or reddish areas of discoloration of the skin. The most common type of psoriasis is called plaque or discoid psoriasis. Psoriasis often affects the skin on the elbows, knees, arms and legs, although it is also often found on the scalp, the chest and back, and around toenails and fingernails.
It is not known exactly what causes the psoriasis, but it typically develops during late childhood or young adulthood and continues through life. Psoriasis is considered to be an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system literally attacks itself, producing a variety of skin conditions and symptoms.
Plaque and scaly portions on the skin caused by psoriasis can be unsightly. People often believe that psoriasis is catching, although it is not. Obvious patches of psoriasis on exposed portions of the arm, legs, or even the scalp may cause extreme embarrassment for psoriasis sufferers that often leads to lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Psoriasis treatment may help relieve not only the physical manifestations of the condition, but emotional and mental well-being.
For many individuals, bouts of psoriasis may be triggered by stress, too much exposure to sunlight, as well as other factors including smoking. Treatment for psoriasis also focuses on preventive measures, which means individuals must learn to identify triggers that initiate bouts of inflammation.
Diagnosis of psoriasis is made by a professional with a visual examination of the affected skin, although at times a biopsy may be performed. Treatment of the disease depends on the severity of your condition as well as your response to certain medications, topical creams or treatments.
Comment treatments for psoriasis today include medications and topical ointments are used directly on the skin or taken orally. Medications prescribed for psoriasis may include:
Phototherapy may also be prescribed and involves use of artificial or sunlight. Individuals are encouraged to expose their skin to moderate amounts of sunlight, although artificial light may be used. In most cases, this is done in a medical setting. Different types of phototherapy are available including UVB, narrowband UVB, Goeckerman, Excimer laser, and pulsed dye lasers.
Conditions of psoriasis may be managed, and at times controlled, but not cured, at least not today. Alternative therapies to help loosen plaque or scaly skin include oatmeal baths (1 cup of oatmeal to one tub of warm water) as well as moisturizing on a daily basis. Waterless and nonprescription cleansers that include cortisone or coal tar may help relieve symptoms.
In the United States, the cost of psoriasis treatment depends on the type of treatment you use. One of the newest drugs for the treatment of psoriasis is Enbrel, an injectable medication, as is Humira, which even with insurance, costs over $300 a month in co-pays. A single dose of Humira may cost approximately $800. Most biological injections average about $500 a month.
Individuals traveling to locations such as India, Mexico and South America may save between 35 and 70% on the same medications.
A trained and certified dermatologist typically treats conditions like psoriasis. A dermatologist is an individual who has undergone specialized training in skin diseases after completing general medical school education and several years of practice in hospital-based environments. Dermatologists should be certified by local, state or international dermatological associations or organizations.
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