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Psoriasis — Dr. Bernard Gasch, an expert and experienced dermatologist at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery in Portland, Oregon, reports that Psoriasis Awareness Month is fast-approaching. With August on its way, Dr. Gasch takes a moment to discuss this widespread and sometimes debilitating skin condition.

“Psoriasis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the U.S.,” Dr. Gasch reports. “It affects over 7 million Americans, and there is no permanent cure. Patients can get their skin under control with the correct treatment, but they first need to overcome their embarrassment and actively consult a dermatologist.”

Dr. Gasch describes psoriasis as a “sometimes hereditary autoimmune skin disorder which often results in thick red scaling plaques most commonly appearing on the elbows and knees. Depending on the type of psoriasis, however, the scalp, face, trunk, hands, feet, buttocks, skin folds, and genitals may also be affected. Sometimes these plaques are itchy, burning, and painful. Occasionally, psoriasis can be triggered by an infection, such as a strep throat, whereas other times it can be triggered by certain medications. Basically in psoriasis, false signals are being sent out by the immune system causing skin cell growth to speed up.”

Dr. Gasch reports that psoriasis can be linked to other serious health conditions, as well. “Many times, psoriasis appears with other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, as well as depression. Moreover, the National Psoriasis Foundation also estimates that almost 30% of people suffering from psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints.”

The mental effects of psoriasis on the patient are yet another one of the many aspects to consider when designing a treatment plan, according to Dr. Gasch. “Most patients suffering from psoriasis feel self-conscious and embarrassed because of it. Patients need to be aware that even though there is no cure for their psoriasis, various treatment options exist which can control their psoriasis for months, years, or even permanently. These treatments vary depending on each individual case, but topical medications, oral/injectable medications, and phototherapy are all commonly used.

Dr. Gasch again emphasizes how important awareness of this condition is. “Patients need to be aware that there are plenty of others living with psoriasis, and that many symptoms can relieved with professional help. I encourage anyone who thinks that they are suffering from psoriasis to find a board-certified dermatologist and learn about their treatment options.”