In healthy skin, new cells form in the deep layers and migrate to the upper layer over a period of several weeks before being shed and making room for new cells. In people with psoriasis, the migration period is sped up, resulting in a “back up” of skin cells at the surface. Essentially, skin's natural sloughing process cannot keep up with the new cells reaching the surface. As a result, scaly patches or plaques of red, itchy skin form. Psoriasis is not a contagious disease, and you cannot “catch” psoriasis from someone else.
The underlying cause of psoriasis hasn't been determined, but researchers believe it may originate from problems with the immune system that may cause skin to become inflamed. Many studies indicate a genetic link, meaning it appears to run in families.
The most common symptoms associated with psoriasis include:
raised plaques that may be itchy or sore and bleed when scratched
scaling, weeping and crusting on the scalp
flareups during which time symptoms become worse (often after sun exposure)
pitted or discolored fingernails
psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pain
Symptoms often occur bilaterally – that is, on both sides of the body.
Although there is no cure, Dr. Altchek is skilled in evaluating each patient's psoriasis individually to help determine the best approach to treatment. Many patients respond well to topical medications, either singly or in combination with oral medications, to help control symptoms and find relief. Other patients respond well to narrow band UVB light therapy which uses ultraviolet B light to help manage psoriasis symptoms. In some cases, UVB may be combined with topical or oral medications. It's not uncommon to change the treatment approach over time to ensure the most effective results.
Dr. Altchek accepts most major insurance providers.
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