Managing Psoriasis

woman looking at face in the mirror( — Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin ailment categorized as mild, moderate or severe, depending on the percentage of affliction on the body. It affects both males and females, and can manifest at any age. However, it is more frequently seen to affect those between ages 15 and 25. It is one of the oldest known ailments affecting mankind and continues to be a medical challenge, as it cannot be cured completely and demands lifelong therapy for effective management.

The symptoms of psoriasis differ from one person to another but usually include:

• Red skin patches with silvery scales
• Small, scaling spots
• Dry, cracked skin
• Itching, burning and soreness
• Thickened, pitted/ridged nails
• Swollen, stiff joints

Other likely symptoms are:

• Genital lesions (in males)
• Joint pain or ache (psoriatic arthritis)
• Nail alterations (including yellow-brown spots, dents on the nail surface and dislocation of the nail from the base. Psoriasis may also cause psoriatic arthritis (inflammation of the joints).

Current treatments available

Psoriasis can be managed with a multitude of treatments. But, what works for one patient may have no effect upon another. These include local treatments with emollients (a liquid or cream used to render the skin soft), cortisone cream, as well as systemic treatments like cyclosporine and acitretin.

During the preliminary stages of this ailment, topical treatments with medicated ointments or creams may be used. In more severe or advanced cases, treatments like UVA light therapy, Psoralen plus UVA light, retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) like Accutane, Soriatane, etc. may be required.

Soriatane (acitretin) scores high as an oral psoriasis medication—it is currently recognized as the best possible treatment that can deal effectively with all the five forms of psoriasis: guttate, plaque, pustular, erythrodermic and inverse. Soriatane is a retinoid medication that functions by inhibiting specific receptors and thereby boosting the growth of skin cells. It is commonly available in 10 mg and 25 mg strengths and is taken once a day.

It may take 8–16 weeks for Soriatane treatment to be effective, and up to six months to see marked improvement. During the course of treatment, one may experience a downturn in the ailment, heightened itchiness, as well as redness—all of which subside gradually with continuing usage.

Do’s and don’ts

Always keep in mind that psoriasis is a manageable skin condition. Here are a few tips for managing psoriasis and its attendant symptoms effectively:

• Use an effective sunscreen that can keep your skin moist and protect against hazardous ultraviolet (UV) rays, in case you pan to spend time outdoors.

• Take a shower or bathe every day with warm water to remove scales. Avoid harsh soaps.

Psoriasis is a chronic and lifelong disease that has no permanent cure. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin and joints. See your doctor to help you get what you need to manage this skin ailment effectively.

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