Psoriasis is a disorder of the skin that affects over 6 million residents of the United States. Research has not definitively established what causes psoriasis, but some recent studies have indicated that it may be in immune-mediated disorder. Psoriasis occurs when the body generates too many skin cells.
Normal skin typically matures within a 28 to 30 day time period, but cells in the psoriatic skin area matures within less than one week. Psoriasis can change from one type to another and has been known to have several types active on a person at the same time. Psoriasis flare ups may improve and go into remission only to return later.
There are many different treatments available to help control psoriasis. Some can be found over the counter at a drugstore while others require a prescription. No single treatment works for everyone so the goal is to find a treatment that works the best for each individual case with the fewest side effects.
Topical corticosteroids are the most commonly prescribed treatments for psoriasis. They are synthetic drugs which resemble naturally occurring hormones in the body and are available in varying strengths and formulations including lotions, creams, solutions, sprays, gels, and ointments.
Corticosteroids act by slowing down the growth of skin cells and decreasing the inflammation of lesions in patients with psoriasis. While corticosteroids may quickly clear lesions, they do not produce long term remissions so the lesions associated with psoriasis may recur after a short term. Side effects are numerous and may include stretch marks or scars on the skin.
Topical therapies have remained the mainstay of treatment for many patients suffering with mild psoriasis. Topical treatments work relatively quickly at clearing lesions and are typically well tolerated by the majority of psoriasis sufferers. However, topical treatments must be used repeatedly to remain effective and are often not able to maintain remission of an outbreak.
Dithranol is a topical therapy which has been used often to treat psoriasis. It can be effective for mild to moderate psoriasis and is often used with ultraviolet treatments for patients with more severe psoriasis. There are some key issues which limit the use of Dithranol as it can cause irritation and burning to the skin and tends to stain anything it comes in contact with.
As more people have been active partners in their treatment of psoriasis, interest in alternative medicine has grown by leaps and bounds. While complementary and alternative treatments are becoming more common, it is important to note that to date they have not been tested and studied to the same extent as conventional medical treatments. Conventional medicine is adjusting to the trend of alternative treatment. Both patients and doctors have become more open to trying alternative approaches.
Complementary medicine is used in conjunction with conventional medicine and has become more common. However, it is difficult to come to a conclusive statement regarding the effectiveness because alternative treatments are administered differently from practitioner to practitioner. Anyone suffering with psoriasis needs to consult with their physician to best determine the best course of action for their condition.
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