Psoriasis is a common skin disease that affects the life cycle of skin cells. Normally, new cells take about a month to move from the lowest skin layer where they’re produced, to the outermost layer where they die and flake off. With psoriasis, the entire life cycle takes only days. As a result, cells build up rapidly, forming thick silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.
According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis. It often appears between the ages of 15 and 25, but can develop at any age. Psoriasis treatments aim to interrupt the cycle that increases production of skin cells, thereby reducing inflammation and plaque formation. A new feature on MayoClinic.com focuses on¬†psoriasis treatment options, including topical treatments, light therapy (phototherapy) and oral medications.
Used alone, creams and ointments applied to skin can effectively treat mild to moderate psoriasis. When skin disease is more severe, creams are likely to be combined with oral medications or phototherapy.
Light Therapy (Phototherapy)
As the name suggests, this psoriasis treatment uses natural or artificial light. The simplest and easiest form of phototherapy involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. Other forms of light therapy include using artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light, either alone or in combination with medications.
Severe psoriasis, or psoriasis that resists other types of treatment, may be treated with oral or injected drugs. Because of severe side effects, some of these medications are used for brief periods and may be alternated with other forms of treatment.
For more information on treatment options for psoriasis, visit MayoClinic.com.