Tackling Psoriasis in the New Year

If you’ve been struggling with psoriasis, why not make this your year to finally get clear skin? Yes, it is possible! Multiple treatment options are available from your dermatologist to stop skin cells from growing so quickly and help remove scales. And there are things you can do on your own, too.

Many people just get “used to” living with psoriasis. This chronic autoimmune condition is most noticeable on the skin, but can affect other parts of the body as well. Having scaly patches on your skin and scalp can be frustrating, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. You don’t have to live like this.

While there is no cure for psoriasis or psoriatic disease, medications can make a world of difference in how your skin looks and feels. Let the dermatologists at Arizona Dermatology help you.

Medications for Psoriasis

Which treatments your doctor recommends will depend on how severe your psoriasis is and how responsive it has been to lifestyle changes and other treatments in the past. It may take some trial and error to find the right treatment or combination of treatments for you. Listen to your body and talk to your doctor. Together, you can find something that works.

Dr. Ko says, “There’s a whole range of treatment options for psoriasis and, basically, we custom tailor the treatment regimen based on the type of psoriasis and how severe it is in every individual. For the most part, we’re very fortunate that we can treat most forms of psoriasis with topical steroids, vitamin A, vitamin D derivatives. When the psoriasis becomes more significant, more symptomatic, more painful, more itchy, systemic options come into play.”

Topical Medications. These include corticosteroids, Vitamin D analogues, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, prescription-strength coal tar, and anthralin. Follow your doctor’s orders on how often to apply the medications. You may have to apply them more often during a flare-up. Some medications can cause irritation. Let your doctor know if this happens. It isn’t recommended to apply Tazarotene (a retinoid) or coal tar if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Light Therapy. Arizona Dermatology dermatologists have seen high rates of success with light therapy, either alone or when used in combination with medications. Exposing the skin to controlled amounts of light slows down the growth of skin cells, reducing plaque formation. Goeckerman therapy combines coal tar treatment with UVB light therapy (the coal tar makes your skin more responsive to the light therapy). Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) involves taking a medication that makes your skin more responsive to UVA light. Our doctors have had tremendous success with PUVA. Dr. Ko says, “This treatment option may be just what you need to put a stop to the effects of psoriasis and enjoy healthy skin at last.”

Oral and Injectable Medications. For psoriasis that hasn’t responded to other treatments, systemic drugs can help. Often, these medications are only administered for a short time to get the psoriasis under control. Treatment can then switch to something milder. Oral medications for psoriasis include retinoids, methotrexate, and cyclosporine. Injected drugs for psoriasis include steroids, retinoids, and biologics. Biologics harness your immune system in order to disrupt the disease process.

Lifestyle Changes for Managing Psoriasis

You have more control than you think when it comes to your psoriasis. Small changes can make a big difference when you have psoriasis. Here are some tips from our dermatologists on how to help manage psoriasis at home.

  • Keep your skin moisturized. Use a heavy cream or ointment that is fragrance- and dye-free.
  • Use the right shampoo. Shampoos with fragrance or alcohol can aggravate psoriasis. A scale softener with salicylic acid can help soften and loosen patches on your scalp.
  • Avoid excess scratching. Scratching makes psoriasis worse. If you scratch the patches on your scalp, it can lead to hair loss.
  • Use sunscreen. Sunburn can cause psoriasis to flare.
  • Check your clothing labels. Avoid tight clothing made of synthetic fibers, especially when working out. Light, breathable fabrics, like cotton or rayon, will help keep your skin from getting irritated when you exercise or sweat.
  • Avoid hot water. Use warm rather than hot water in the bath and shower. Hot water is very drying and irritating on the skin. Keep your showers to about 5 minutes and baths to under 15 minutes.
  • Choose anti-inflammatory foods. While there is no diet that will cure psoriasis, reducing overall inflammation in your body may help you manage it.

Stress Management for Psoriasis

Stress is a psoriasis trigger for many people. You can’t avoid all stress in your life, but if you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, take steps to combat the negative emotions.

  • Don’t overschedule yourself. Make sure you have time for rest and relaxation in your schedule. Learn to say “no.”
  • Prioritize sleep. Go to bed at a time that will allow you to get a good seven to eight hours of sleep. The body needs rest to heal.
  • Use stress reduction techniques. Take a walk, spend time in nature, meditate, nap, or listen to music. Make time to do things you enjoy, like playing cards or games with friends, reading, playing an instrument, or creating.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. While some people use alcohol or tobacco to de-stress, both of these substances actually hurt psoriasis more than they help.
  • Find support. Find someone you can talk to about living with psoriasis. A friend, family member, or someone in a support group can all be good listeners if you need to vent. It’s also important to find someone who won’t let you give up. It can take time, but clearer skin is possible!

If you are living with psoriasis and haven’t found relief, we encourage you to come into Arizona Dermatology and meet with one of our board-certified dermatologists. Sometimes psoriasis can be mistaken for other skin conditions, like eczema. Our doctors are skilled and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating psoriasis and other skin conditions.They are happy to give second opinions!

Start the new year with hope and confidence! Make an appointment today.