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Vice President of Community Health and Medical Director, LRHS Physicians Group
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Wednesday, August 28 2013

Understanding Psoriasis

Psoriasis_Blog

A person might ask, “What are these spots on my skin?” or feel embarrassed if others stare and think they are contagious. (They are not.)

The spots are often much larger than the size of a coin, raised up, flat on top, pink and sometimes scaly. These scales can sometimes make the area appear silvery. They are often itchy, can feel sore and can sometimes bleed.  Patches may show up on the scalp, knees, elbows, hands and feet.

These are the last few days of psoriasis awareness month and this chronic inflammation (irritation) of the skin that affects over 7 million people in the United States.

The skin disease, psoriasis, can reveal itself in many ways and can look slightly different from what is described above.

This disease can also affect the inside of the body with mouth sores or arthritis and is sometimes, although rarely, associated with belly pain (inflammatory bowel disease) and a higher chance of heart disease.

This disease is caused by your own immune system irritating your skin and there are a variety of treatments.

As with any serious chronic disease, also consider the stress and emotional strain a skin disorder might have on a person. Depression is common among those dealing with psoriasis, but that too can be helped by meeting with a trained professional.

Ask your primary care physician if you have a rash that won’t go away.

3 Comments

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Psoriasis Vulgaris
Sep 3, 1:31 PM

Such a complex condition that scientists haven’t yet been able to determine the exact cause of psoriasis, but instead providing a wide variety of theories: genetic, immunological, auto-immune, metabolic, hormonal or microbial to mention just a few. Not to mention its remitting nature that seems to slip through everyone’s fingers. Hope you and your boys get better and find a way to keep it under control, Nicole.

Daniel Haight
Aug 30, 9:03 PM

Nicole,

That sounds like a bad experience but I am glad that you are doing something about it. Every patient should feel listened to and be a part of the effots to relieve pain or the symptoms of an illness. Your doctors should work together as a team.

Although I cannot fully assess your condition, I would offer this general advice: First, make sure you are comfortable that the scalp rash is diagnosed correctly as many other rashes could look like psoriasis. For example, the flakey rash of “seborrheic dermatitis” casues scales that will respond to certain treatments but comes back and needs regular treatments.

Makes sure the doctor can answer “What confirms to you that this rash is psoriasis?” Generally, psoriasis can be identified by its appearance by a well trained physician.

The same is true for the joint pain. There are many causes. Sometimes, the dermatologist works with a rheumatologist (who specializes in joint pain). A rheumatologist can be hard to find. If a person really has psoriasis and the rheumatogist feels that the joint pain is “psoriatic arthritis”, then some of the treatments can help with both.

The difficult issue is the cost of these newer treatments can be very expensive. Sometimes the companies have programs that help patients who can not affort the medications.

There is a whole range of different treatments for psoriasis and each has pros and cons. The same is true for psoriatic arthritis.

A doctor should consider all possible causes of the problem, explain the observations and/or tests that would lead to naming the exact cause and then present all treatment options. Lastly, the doctor must understand which treatment option is best for you considering side effects, cost, and your unique needs.

I suffer from psoriasis on my scalp my whole life and I am now 30, and a strep carrier..I know nothing will make it go away, some products help with itching. I have had a lot of other symptoms/ issues and did my own research on Psoriasis, with the above mentioned web page… I got to the Part about the Psoriasis Arthritis and cried, I live in a constant state of pain and aches so bad that I had to go to physical therapy for 3 months cause “unknown” because I woke up one day and could hardly move any limb, my body was so stiff.. I tried bring this information up to my doctor he actually Laughed at me and said go to the Dermatologist, the dermatologist wouldn’t address it and ignored my questions. I am getting a new doctor soon… How can I address it with them so they will take me seriously.. I’m desperate for help and think this may be the link to all my years in pain. I just want relief and to play with my 2 boys…. whom also have Psoriasis on their scalp. Thank you for sharing this information. ~Nicole

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