MEDICAL SKIN CONDITIONS

Psoriasis treatment

Psoriasis is a common, chronic and scaly rash that affects people of all ages.

It affects about 2% of the population and is not contagious. There are various genetic and environmental factors that influence the formation of psoriasis. The condition can be very socially disabling which often leads to depression. It can have associated medical conditions such as psoriatic arthritis.

Whilst there is no cure for psoriasis, recent advances in treatment mean that a great majority of cases can be well controlled.

What treats Psoriasis
Psoriasis treatments available

Treatments available include:

  • Topical agents: Emollients (sometimes with additive like tar and salicyclic acid) are usually the first topical treatment of choice. There are other stronger topical prescription agents such as topical corticosteroids, calcipotriol and topical retinoids. Topical treatments are often enough to control mild psoriasis. More severe psoriasis requires combination with other treatment options below.
  • Phototherapy: This very safe treatment can clear the majority of mild and moderate cases of psoriasis. Typically, each treatment session lasts for a few minutes with sessions 2-3 times a week. Total of 6-10 weeks are usually required to significantly clear the psoriasis. Post treatment benefits last up to a couple of months. This treatment is fully covered by Medicare at Queensland Specialist Dermatology.
  • Systemic treatments (tablets): These include methotrexate, acritretin and cyclosporine. These prescription medications require detailed clinical assessment to determine their suitability. Further follow-ups are also essential to assess their efficacy as well as side effects.
  • Biologic injections: Research has discovered and identified many of the biochemical and immunological pathways involved in psoriasis. This has allowed the formation of a new class of medications that can specifically target these pathways involved. These target treatments are not only more effective but also have a safer treatment profile compare to the previous treatment options. However, these treatments are expensive. The Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme will only subsidise their use for severe psoriasis under treatment by a dermatologist if the condition meets stringent criteria.

Dr. Jason Wu at Queensland Specialist Dermatology is one of most experienced dermatologists in Queensland with respect to psoriasis and its new treatments. Apart from working in Queensland Specialist Dermatology, he also runs the biologics and severe psoriasis clinic at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that leads to an abnormally fast growth of skin cells, due to the body’s over-active immune system. The rapid build up of skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy red patches that can be painful. There is no single ‘cause’ for psoriasis. A number of factors contribute to the development of psoriasis, including environmental triggers, genetic disposition and the body’s own immune system. Environmental factors such as stress, infection, smoking and alcohol may trigger or worsen psoriasis. Having a family history predispose you the disease, but not everyone with a family history will develop psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a multisystem disease that commonly affects the skin, but can involve other body parts such as scalp, nails and hands and feet. It can be associated with other chronic conditions such as psoriatic arthritis. Some are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and eye disease.

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