Bryn Mawr Dermatology

Villanova, PA | Collegeville, PA

Psoriasis: Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Options

Introduction

Did you know that psoriasis affects over 125 million people worldwide? It is a condition not limited by gender or ethnicity, and it can affect people of all ages, from children to the elderly. This chronic skin condition is more prevalent than you might think, and it’s time to raise awareness about it. August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, and we at BMD believe education and understanding are crucial in supporting those living with this condition. In this article, we will provide an in-depth overview of psoriasis, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, and highlight the importance of raising awareness.

As technology advances, patients increasingly seek a seamless digital experience that allows them to access healthcare services at their fingertips. Bryn Mawr Dermatology (BMD) recognizes this evolving trend and has developed an innovative online scheduling tool and TouchMD app, catering to patients’ desires for convenience, accessibility, and personalized care.

While this article spells out some important information about psoriasis, we highly recommend you read the full article, here are the key points we will focus on:

Table of Contents

What You Need to Understand About Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that primarily affects the skin, causing it to develop red, inflamed patches covered with silvery scales. These patches can appear anywhere on the body, most commonly on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. The condition can vary in severity, with some individuals experiencing mild symptoms while others endure more severe and debilitating forms of the disease. By shedding some light on the causes and symptoms of psoriasis, we aim to empower individuals with the knowledge needed to manage psoriasis effectively.

Causes and Risks Factors 

While the exact cause of psoriasis remains unclear, research suggests that it results from an overactive immune system triggering rapid skin cell growth. Risk factors, such as family history, stress, infections, and certain medications, can increase the likelihood of developing psoriasis. Certain medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome, have been associated with an increased risk of developing psoriasis.

Common Symptoms and Types of Psoriasis

Psoriasis presents in various forms, each with distinct characteristics. The most prevalent type is plaque psoriasis, characterized by raised, red skin patches covered with silvery scales. Other types include guttate, pustular, inverse, and erythrodermic psoriasis. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but typical indicators include itching, redness, and inflammation.

Diagnosis Process

Diagnosing psoriasis typically involves a thorough examination by a dermatologist, who will assess the affected skin areas and inquire about the patient’s medical history. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other skin conditions with similar symptoms, such as eczema.

Distinguishing Psoriasis from Eczema

Psoriasis is often mistaken for eczema due to overlapping symptoms, but they are two distinct skin conditions. While both can cause redness and itching, psoriasis typically presents with thicker, silvery scales, while eczema tends to have a more weepy, red appearance.

If you feel like you, or someone you love, might have psoriasis symptoms, consult our qualified dermatologists at BMD for a thorough evaluation and a personalized treatment plan to help you eliminate your unique symptoms. 

What Are the Impacts of Psoriasis?

Living with psoriasis can have far-reaching impacts on various aspects of an individual’s life. Beyond the visible physical effects on the skin, the condition can significantly influence emotional well-being, mental health, and even social interactions.

Physical Effects on the Skin and Body

 

Psoriasis can result in mild to extreme discomfort, itching, severe skin flaking, and sometimes pain. The affected skin can be sensitive and prone to bleeding or cracking, making day-to-day activities challenging. In severe cases, psoriasis on the skin can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis which can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility of the joints.

 

Psychological and Emotional Impact

The visible nature of psoriasis lesions can lead to emotional distress and negatively impact mental well-being. Many individuals experience self-consciousness, embarrassment, and low self-esteem. The chronic nature of the condition and the uncertainty of flare-ups can also lead to anxiety and depression in some patients. The emotional toll of psoriasis should not be underestimated, as it can affect relationships, work productivity, and overall quality of life.

 

Social Challenges and Stigma Associated with Psoriasis

 

Sadly, psoriasis sufferers often face societal challenges and stigma due to the visible nature of their condition. Misunderstandings about psoriasis can lead to misconceptions, such as it being contagious or caused by poor hygiene. Consequently, individuals with psoriasis may experience discrimination, avoidance, or exclusion in social and professional settings. This social stigma can exacerbate the emotional burden and increase feelings of isolation and loneliness.


Recognizing the holistic impacts of psoriasis is essential in providing comprehensive care and support for individuals living with this chronic skin condition. At Bryn Mawr Dermatology, we understand the multifaceted effects of psoriasis and strive to offer not only effective medical treatments but also empathy, understanding, and resources to help patients cope with the physical, emotional, and social challenges they may face.

What Are Some Treatment Options for Psoriasis?

Various treatment options are available depending on the type and severity of psoriasis. The goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, and improve the overall quality of life for individuals living with psoriasis. Here are some common treatment approaches:

  1. Topical Treatments and Moisturizers: Topical treatments are often the first line of defense for mild to moderate psoriasis. These medications are applied directly to the affected skin and come in various forms, including creams, ointments, gels, and sprays. They can help reduce inflammation, itching, and scaling. Common topical treatments for psoriasis include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, retinoids, salicylic acid, and coal tar products. Some over the counter products can help maintain prescription therapy by systemically exfoliating skin and soothing the itch. Here are a couple we love:
  1. Systemic Medications and Biologics: Systemic medications and biologics may be prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis. These medications work from within the body to target the immune system and reduce inflammation. Systemic medications include methotrexate, cyclosporine, and acitretin. Biologics are a newer class of drugs specifically targeting specific immune proteins involved in psoriasis inflammation. They are typically administered by injection or infusion and have shown significant efficacy in managing moderate to severe psoriasis.
  1. Phototherapy and Alternative Therapies: Light therapy, or phototherapy, involves exposing the skin to controlled doses of natural or artificial light to improve symptoms. This treatment can slow down the rapid skin cell growth and reduce inflammation. Different types of phototherapy include UVB therapy, PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) therapy, and excimer laser therapy. Additionally, some patients find relief through alternative therapies such as acupuncture or herbal remedies.
  1. Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care Tips: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, avoiding trigger foods and eating a balanced diet, and stress management, can complement medical treatments and help manage flare-ups.

How to Manage Psoriasis?

Psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered or exacerbated by various factors, including stress, infections, certain medications, and changes in weather. Identifying and avoiding triggers as much as possible is essential. Stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can be helpful in managing stress, which may, in turn, reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. Also, good skincare practices, such as gentle cleansers and moisturizers, can promote skin health and alleviate discomfort during flare-ups.

 

Furthermore, psoriasis can be triggered by certain foods such as red meat, dairy products, gluten, and processed foods. Managing psoriasis requires individuals to avoid or limit consuming these foods, and adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support the immune system and promote skin health.

 

Psoriasis patients may find comfort and understanding by connecting with others who share similar experiences. Support groups and online forums provide a safe space to share feelings, coping strategies, and valuable information about managing psoriasis. Additionally, various organizations and resources offer educational materials, webinars, and helplines dedicated to psoriasis, ensuring patients can access the latest information and support.

 

By adopting a holistic approach that addresses psoriasis’s physical, emotional, and social aspects, individuals can effectively manage the condition and lead fulfilling lives. 

Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

Psoriasis has been subject to several myths, including claims that it is caused by poor hygiene or an infectious disease. In reality, this condition is autoimmune in nature and can be a result of genetic predisposition. Another prevalent misconception about psoriasis is that it is contagious. We will clarify that psoriasis is not infectious and cannot be transmitted through touch or other means of contact. 

 

Furthermore, various unproven treatments for psoriasis have circulated, leading to misinformation and potentially harmful practices. It is essential to learn about evidence-based treatment options for psoriasis so individuals with psoriasis can make informed decisions regarding their health.

Why Choose Bryn Mawr Dermatology for Psoriasis Treatment?

At Bryn Mawr Dermatology, we are committed to providing exceptional care and support to psoriasis patients. Our team of experienced dermatologists specializes in treating psoriasis and offers personalized approaches to manage the condition effectively. We understand psoriasis’s physical and emotional impact and aim to create a comfortable and compassionate environment for our patients.

 

If you or a loved one are affected by psoriasis, contact Bryn Mawr Dermatology today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards managing this condition confidently.

 

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