Mississauga dermatologist explains what causes psoriasis and how to get diagnosed and treated
Psoriasis is a painful, itchy skin condition that can flare up at any time and generates a great amount of discomfort for those who suffer from it. There can be several underlying causes for psoriasis and working with a qualified dermatologist to learn what is triggering your psoriasis flare-ups is an important part of alleviating your symptoms. Many patients suffer for years before getting diagnosed, but there is no reason to delay treatment. Dr. Faisal Al Mohammedi at DermCare in Mississauga, ON is an expert in diagnosing and treating skin conditions such as psoriasis, and provides his patients with compassionate, thorough care.
Psoriasis symptoms and causes
Psoriasis is a disorder that is caused by an overactive immune system. When you have psoriasis, your body creates new skin cells too rapidly, which causes irregular patches of skin to form. These patches can have a variety of different textures and symptoms depending on what type of psoriasis that you have. Plaque psoriasis is the most common and causes red, itchy, scaly, and painful patches that are typically located on your scalp, knees, elbows, or lower back. Other types of psoriasis can result in shiny and smooth patches of skin, small pink or red spots, painful pus-filled lesions, or large areas of burning, itching, and peeling skin.
If you have psoriasis, you will likely experience it in a cyclical process where it flares up for a few weeks or months and then subsides. Sometimes psoriasis goes into complete remission and does not return.
The reason that people develop psoriasis is not completely understood, but it is likely due to cells in your immune system, called T-cells, attacking your healthy skin cells instead of foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. While psoriasis likely has a genetic component, there are several common triggers that can cause psoriasis flare-ups in people who have the condition. These include:
- Injuries, bug bites, or bad sunburns
- Deficiency in vitamin D
- Smoking or heavy consumption of alcohol
- Some medications, including medications for high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, and malaria
People who have certain risk factors can be more likely to develop psoriasis. If you have a family member that has psoriasis, you are much more likely to get the disease yourself. Recurring infections such as strep throat can also increase your risk, as well as being obese.
Getting diagnosed with psoriasis
If you have any of the symptoms of psoriasis, you should see a qualified dermatologist, who has expertise in diagnosing skin conditions. The doctor will conduct a thorough examination of your skin, nails, and scalp and will listen to your medical history and symptoms to determine whether you have the condition. Other tests such as a skin biopsy may be needed to diagnose it if it is unclear based on an examination alone. If a skin biopsy is performed, the doctor will use a local anesthetic and then take a very small sample of your skin to examine with a microscope. Doing this will help the doctor determine whether you have psoriasis, and if so, what kind it is.
There are several different treatment options if you have psoriasis. The right treatment for you will depend on the type of psoriasis you have, what your symptoms are, and how severe it is. In general, there are three categories of treatments:
- Topical treatments: These are ointments or creams that you use on your skin to treat psoriasis. They are typically used in mild or moderate cases and can be combined with other types of treatments as needed. Common topical medications include corticosteroids, retinoids, vitamin D creams, and a medication called anthralin that smooths skin and slows down the growth of skin cells.
- Systemic medications: These are medications that you either take by mouth or that are injected into your body. They are typically reserved for severe cases of psoriasis and are usually aimed at altering your immune system function. Common medications used include methotrexate, cyclosporine, retinoids, or biologics.
- Light therapies: With this treatment, ultraviolet light is applied to your skin in controlled doses to slow the cell growth in your skin and smooth it out.
Dr. Faisal Al Mohammedi and the team at DermCare are committed to providing you the best care possible for your dermatological condition so that you can get back to your normal life. Call the office in Mississauga, ON at (905) 625-5600 to schedule your appointment today.Back to Psoriasis Treatment Page