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Home > Skin Diseases > Psoriasis

Psoriasis

     Psoriasis is a chronic and often painful, non-contagious disease in which the skin cells reproduce about 7 times faster than normal. There are several different types of psoriasis but the common type - psoriasis vulgaris - is characterized by reddish skin patches with silvery scales on the scalp, knees, elbows, hands and feet.     

     It is worth pointing out that a common type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma can also appear as reddish skin patches, as can its precursor the pre-cancerous actinic keratosis.

     Treatment options for psoriasis include

  • topical medications containing cortisone-like compounds, synthetic vitamin D (calcipotriene) tar and anthralin
  • oral medications such as methrotrexate, cyclosporine, or retinoids
  • laser and light based technologies in combination with topical (tar plus ultraviolet B light-the Goeckerman regimen) and oral (psoralens plus ultraviolet A light-the puva regimen)
  • new biologic agents which work by blocking a type of cell called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) which is involved in inflammatory and immune responses

     These drugs are already being used to treat severe arthritic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. Two of these drugs which are given at home by injection are marketed under the trade names of Enbrel and Raptiva. This class of drugs can have serious side effects including an increased incidence of infections and malignancy.



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Robert J Weiss, MD PC
The Skin Wizard