Psoriasis is a skin condition that creates red patches of skin with white, flaky scales. It most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. The first episode usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 35. It is a chronic condition that will then cycle through flare-ups and remissions throughout the rest of the patient’s life. Psoriasis affects as many as 7.5 million people in the United States. About 20,000 children under age ten have been diagnosed with psoriasis.
There are many treatments for psoriasis. Keep in mind, they are treatments, they are not cures. Simply getting a bit of sunlight can be very helpful for psoriasis. However, exposure to sunlight is a double edged sword, as it may cause a lot of damage to the skin as well. Taking baths in salts from the Dead Sea, or dilute tar baths have also worked very well in some people, and is safe. There are prescription creams of many types available that can be used, and often are successful. Home units can be purchased via prescription that provides specific wavelengths of UV light that are relatively safe, and very effective. Systemic treatments for psoriasis include injections and pills. These treatments are very powerful, and can have many potential side effects, which have to be monitored regularly with office visits and blood work. Combination treatment is often needed for many people.