Psoriasis is a term that encompasses a group of chronic skin disorders that affect any part of the body from the scalp to the toenails, but most frequently affect the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet and genitals. Over seven million men and women in the U.S. of all ages have some form of psoriasis, which may be mild, moderate or severe. In addition it may be categorized into different types: plaque, pustular, erythrodermic, guttate or inverse psoriasis. Most forms involve an itching and/or burning sensation, scaling and crusting of the skin.Type-specific symptoms include:
- Plaque psoriasis (the most common type): raised, thickened patches of red skin covered with silvery-white scales;
- Pustular psoriasis: pus-like blisters;
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: intense redness and swelling of a large part of the skin surface;
- Guttate psoriasis: small, drop-like lesions;
- Inverse psoriasis: smooth red lesions in the folds of the skin.
While the cause of psoriasis has yet to be discovered, suspected triggers include emotional stress, skin injury, systemic infections and certain medications. There is a possibility that susceptibility to psoriasis is inherited.
Psoriasis cannot be cured but it can be treated successfully, sometimes for months or years and occasionally even permanently. Treatment depends on the type, severity and location of psoriasis; the patient’s age, medical history and life ; and the effect the disease has on the patient’s general mental health. The most common treatments are topical medications, phototherapy, photochemotherapy (PUVA), and oral or injectable medication (for severe symptoms).
Rash Evaluation & Treatments
A rash is a change in the skin’s color or texture. Simple rashes are called dermatitis, which means the skin is inflamed or swollen. Contact dermatitis is caused by touching an irritating substance such as clothing materials and dyes, latex, cosmetics, soaps or certain plants like poison ivy. Seborrheic dermatitis forms red patches and scaling, usually on the face and head, where it is more commonly known as dandruff or cradle cap. Other common rashes include eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, shingles, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, insect bites and those caused by medical conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Rashes can be caused by contact with plants, animals, soaps, chemicals, as well as being one of many viral or bacterial skin diseases, like impetigo, pityriasis rosea, seborrheic dermatitis, secondary syphilis and many others. Our doctors and our staff pride themselves on sorting out these many possible causes of “rash” and then giving the patient the appropriate treatment. Sometimes a biopsy is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Our doctors are usually able to take a very small, almost painless piece of skin to do this, and the excellent independent dermatopathology laboratory will often have the result back in two working days or less.
Some of the most frequently-occurring types of rashes we treat are:
These small red spots or bumps can be very itchy. They develop when the sweat ducts in the skin are clogged and perspiration cannot properly take place. Wearing loose, lightweight clothing can help prevent this type of rash. Cooling the skin through air conditioning or use of cold compresses and hydrocortisone creams should alleviate the itching if you are stricken with heat rash.
Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE)
Caused by too much exposure to either the sun or UV lights in tanning beds, PMLE typically results in itchy red areas on the chest, arms, neck or thighs. Use sunblock regularly to avoid this rash. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, hydrocortisone cream and cold compresses can provide relief of symptoms until the rash goes away.
Poison Ivy/Poison Oak
These plants can trigger a reaction in many people that results in blistering, itchy, swollen skin. For those who enjoy camping and hiking, try to avoid any plants with leaves growing in groups of three. If you do come into contact with poison ivy or oak, cleanse the skin with soap and water immediately. Once the rash has formed, you will most likely require a prescription medication to counter the symptoms.
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes redness and swelling on the face and occasionally on the neck, ears, chest, back and eyes as well. The specific cause of rosacea is unknown, but is suspected to involve a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, and is most common in fair-skinned adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Certain triggers, such as consuming alcohol or spicy foods, may worsen symptoms of rosacea.
Treatment for rosacea aims to relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. This can be done through a combination of approaches, including topical and oral medications, antibiotics, Accutane®, or surgery for severe or permanent symptoms. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan after a thorough evaluation of each patient’s individual condition. While there is no cure for rosacea, many patients can achieve effective symptom relief for long periods of time.