Patients often come into our office seeking help with severely dry patches of skin that just won’t go away – especially this time of year. These thick, red often asymptomatic or slightly itchy areas with silvery flaking skin is what tips us off to the diagnosis of psoriasis.
Psoriasis happens when the body generates too much inflammation that results in faster skin growth than skin shedding (hence the thickened skin).
Psoriasis is not curable but thankfully has several very effective medications ranging from topical medicated creams/ointments, to light therapy, pills, or injectable medications. Choice of the treatment will depend on location, size of the rash, and whether or not the patient has associated joint stiffness/discomfort.
This brings us to the next point: Psoriasis is NOT just a skin disease. It has the potential to affect every part of the body including the heart and joints. Psoriatic arthritis (characterized by morning stiffness that improves throughout the day) develops in about 30% of people with skin psoriasis regardless of severity, and warrants more aggressive treatment.
Psoriasis can often be diagnosed by close examination by a trained eye, but sometimes requires a biopsy (a small sample of skin) to confirm the diagnosis since several other skin conditions can mimic psoriasis.
If you notice any new “dry patches”, this may be more than just dry skin. To be evaluated by any one of our eight dermatology specialists, please call our office at 763-321-8700.