Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects over 2% of the population. It is thought to be caused by a change in the skins immune system whereby new skin cell growth is accelerated and a build up of skin cells on the surface of the skin form a psoriatic plaque. Normally skin cells turnover or replace themselves with new skin every 28 days. With psoriasis skin cells are replaced every 2-6 days and the build up of skin cells appears as patches of red skin covered with silvery white scales.
Psoriasis is not infectious and affects all age groups and both sexes. It can occur at any time in your life. Approximately 30% of cases have a family history of psoriasis. Others are thought to be linked to infection, injury, reaction to drugs or stress.
Topical treatments such as creams, lotions and gels are applied directly to the skin. These include Vitamin A, topical steroids, coal tar preparations.
Phototherapy involves the treatment of Ultra Violet light either UVA or UVB. Often people with psoriasis notice an improvement after exposure to direct sunlight as this contains UV light. UV light slows down the skin turnover thereby alleviating the build up of cells and development of plaque.
UVB can be used on its own whereas UVA is used in conjunction with Psoralen, a chemical derived from plants, that makes the skin more sensitive to UVA light. Known as PUVA this treatment can be used on thicker plaques or where topical or UVB therapies have been less successful.
Phototherapy treatment is normally done 2-3 times per week for several weeks.
Systemic medication. Certain drugs can be prescribed for psoriasis. These can either suppress the immune system or slow down the turnover of skin and reduce inflammation.
At West London Dermatology Centre we can advise on the range of options available. We also offer the first Dualight system in the UK which is a new type of UV light treatment for psoriasis. This system can deliver targeted high dose UVB and UVA for faster results. The treatment is fast and comfortable and results can be seen after just a few treatments. All areas can be treated effectively. Unlike other phototherapy Dualight targets only the affected area so it is safer than systems which target both psroriatic and normal skin. 1-2 treatments per week are required and the number of treatments varies depending on the severity of the condition.
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