Medical Dermatology

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Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition which shows up as a rash with dry, silvery, scaling patches and can flare up for no apparent reason. The affected areas often crack and are sometimes painful. Psoriasis is found mainly on the elbows, knees, scalp, chest and trunk and can also affect the toenails and fingernails. It may begin in late childhood or young adulthood and usually continues throughout life.

What Causes It?

The cause of psoriasis is currently unknown but recent investigations show the immune system plays a major role. Psoriasis is a genetic skin condition, therefore a family history of psoriasis can cause a person to develop the disease. Other aggravating factors include trauma to the skin and emotional stress.


What Can Be Done?

Psoriasis can usually be controlled but unfortunately there is no cure for psoriasis. Topical steroids are the first line of treatment to control inflammation. Combination therapies using topical steroids and Vitamin D or Vitamin A prescription creams provide more relief from the symptoms.


Tar is another topical medicine sometimes still used to treat psoriasis. Tars are used in shampoos for scalp psoriasis and tar oil can be added to a bath for soaking the whole skin area. Tar preparations applied directly to the affected area at bedtime are most effective.


Ultraviolet light therapy (UVB) has been shown to improve psoriasis. Occasionally UVA light may be used. It can be used alone or in conjunction with topical steroids or tar therapy. Both UVB and UVA treatments are available at our clinic.