Psoriasis is a skin condition that makes your skin thick and red. Doctors do not know what causes psoriasis but heredity is thought to play a role for many people with this disorder. In addition to genetics, multiple other exposures and characteristics have been proposed as risk factors or exacerbating factors for psoriasis such as tobacco, alcohol, obesity, certain medications, infections and vitamin D deficiency. Psoriasis is not contagious. It is a common skin disorder that affects about 1 in 40 people of all age ranges. In psoriasis, areas of the skin grow much faster than normal forming red, scaly plaques. It also often causes silver or white scales to form on the skin. The scalp, elbows and knees are the most common sites but any part of the skin may become involved. Fortunately, psoriasis usually does not affect your general health. In 20% of cases it may be associated with arthritis which causes pain and swelling in the joints. Patients with psoriasis also have an increased risk of heart disease (atherosclerosis) and lymphoma (blood cancer). It is important that you follow up with your regular doctor to monitor for these other diseases and control other factors that may influence your risk factors (like cholesterol and blood pressure).

TREATMENT: There are treatments that can relieve the symptoms of psoriasis but the condition cannot be cured. Treatment options for psoriasis include creams, ointments, pills and shots. There is also a form of light therapy that can help with psoriasis. All treatments for psoriasis work by slowing the growth of skin cells, controlling the immune response that causes psoriasis or both. Most people need to try different treatments or combinations of treatments before they figure out what works best for them. If you have psoriasis of the scalp, it helps to wash your hair with medicated shampoos, such as those containing selenium, zinc, ketoconazole or tar. There are many types of topical treatments for psoriasis including moisturizers, tar preparations, cortisone creams, vitamin D or vitamin A based ointments and anthralin. Systemic therapies can be very affective but also have the potential for serious side effects. These will be discussed with you in detail prior to starting any of these therapies. Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your psoriasis. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us.

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Gem State Dermatology
388 E. ParkCenter Blvd.

Boise, ID 83706