Psoriasis may not be a deadly disease, but this disfiguring skin condition can be painful, both physically and emotionally. We asked Yuba City dermatologist Dr. Foy Cox of Sutter Medical FoundationOpens new window, to help us understand psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the skin, nails and joints. Like many other autoimmune diseases, it results when the patient’s immune system overreacts, causing skin cells to be produced too rapidly – much faster than normal skin cell development. The out-of-control skin cells “stack up,” causing red, scaly patches on the body, scalp or nails.
Psoriasis shows up in several different ways:
Psoriasis occurs when the immune system inappropriately stimulates skin cell production and causes them to be produced too rapidly. While skin cells normally replace themselves every month, in psoriasis, they reproduce every 3-5 days.
Why this immune response happens is not widely understood. According to Dr, Cox, it is clear that that there is a genetic factor, with the disease running in families.
Psoriasis is found equally in men and women. It occurs in all races, but is more common in Caucasians. It can happen at any age, but is often seen for the first time between 15 and 25 years of age.
Treatment for psoriasis varies, based on the way it shows up in the body and the severity for each individual patient. Types of treatment include:
According to Dr. Cox, the future looks brighter for patients with psoriasis. Within the next 5-10 years, he foresees that additional biological agents will be developed to block the psoriasis process at an earlier point in the immunologic pathway. This should mean better results and fewer potential side effects for patients.
Have a question about psoriasis or other skin conditions? Ask our Experts!