Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States. It affects 2% to 3% of the entire population. Psoriasis is not just a dermatologic disorder. It is a disorder that affects the entire human body.
Dermatologists get the credit for treating it because there’s a lot of manifestations involving the skin, such as red, scaly, painful, itchy plaques that can affect all aspects of the skin’s surface area, including the scalp, arms, torso, legs, and even the genitalia. What a lot of people forget is that since psoriasis is not just a dermatologic disorder, but rather a systemic autoimmune disease, these immune cells are also capable of attacking the joints and destroying the joints leading to destructive disease that can affect the ability to ambulate, or even perform everyday activities, and certainly affect individual quality of life.
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 the play.
What qualifies as systemic options include ultraviolet light, including our narrow-band UVB laser, as well as oral drugs, and biologic drugs.
And the beauty of these systemic drugs, whether they be oral or systemic, is that they can be target-specific and address the parts of the immune system that are causing psoriasis. And, in so doing, help to not only reduce the skin symptoms, but also disease activity with the joints, and once again help to possibly reduce long-term risk of heart attack and stroke that can be induced by the chronic inflammation in psoriatic patients.
There are a lot of drugs in the pipeline for psoriasis. I, myself, stay very active in the field of psoriasis research, which I like to carry over to the providers in our practice. I feel that our providers are the most knowledgeable of any office in the state of Arizona when it comes to dermatology providers when it comes to the understanding of the myriad of treatment options for psoriasis.