Address Thick, Scaly Patches in St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, and Tampa Bay
More than just a rash or dry skin, psoriasis is a chronic condition that can cause both physical discomfort and social embarrassment due to the thick, scaly patches that can develop on visible areas. To anyone dealing with psoriasis, Tampa Bay's Nelson Dermatology offers both treatment and encouragement: It is possible to address the symptoms, improve your skin, and get relief.
What Is Psoriasis?
Skin cells regularly grow in what is known as the basal layer, moving up through the epidermal layers above until they reach the surface and are sloughed off, making way for the newer cells coming from below. This constant cycle is known as "skin cell turnover," and the entire process typically takes weeks or longer in a properly functioning system.
A dysfunctional immune system can cause the body to mistakenly attack healthy skin cells, prompting the turnover rate to rapidly increase and shortening the process to just a few days. This leads to a buildup of excess skin cells on the surface, creating thick patches that have a scaly appearance and texture. These frequently silvery patches are known as plaque psoriasis, which tend to form on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Other symptoms to watch for include finger and toenails that develop pits and become discolored, the teardrop-shaped red spots common to guttate psoriasis, the blisters of pustular psoriasis, and the irritation of inverse psoriasis, which develops in areas of high friction, such as the groin, inner thighs, and beneath the breasts.
Unfortunately, the symptoms are not always limited to just the skin. A hyperactive immune system can also cause inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the joints, where the problem is known as psoriatic arthritis.
What Causes Psoriasis?
While rapid skin cell growth is attributed to a problematic immune system, doctors and medical researchers are still unsure as to what causes certain people's immune systems to attack their own cells and develop psoriasis. There does seem to be a genetic component, as the problem often develops in specific families.
What is known is that psoriasis can often acutely worsen in flare-ups. These flare-ups can occur from a number of different triggers. We know that an especially common trigger is infections, specifically strep throat, which can prompt an overactive immune system response.
Infections are not the only trigger. Just about anything that taxes the body or throws off your immunologic balance can also activate this reaction. Some other common triggers include wounds, bug bites, sunburns, physical or emotional stress, and hormone shifts (such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause). Drinking alcohol to excess and smoking tobacco can also prompt a flare-up.
At Nelson Dermatology, our team of dermatologists will help you to try to identify your triggers and flare-ups, so that we can help you to best manage your condition.
What Psoriasis Treatments Are Available at Tampa Bay's Nelson Dermatology?
There is unfortunately no cure for psoriasis and the underlying immune system dysfunction, but the Nelson Dermatology team can help you to control your condition by improving the appearance of the plaques, slowing the rate of skin cell turnover, and managing your other symptoms. First-line strategies include topical anti-inflammatory agents and topical steroids. Additional treatments include oral medications, such as acitretin. Most recently, agents known as biologics, which attempt to modulate the body's immunologic response, have been developed. These new biologic agents have shown great promise at controlling previously challenging cases.
At Nelson Dermatology, we will use all appropriate therapeutic options to help you control your psoriasis, manage your flare-ups, and improve your skin.