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    Love the Skin You’re In: Four Ways to Combat Psoriasis

    Clay Davis, MD Dermatologist, Deaconess Clinic  07/08/2015
    Psoriasis isn’t just an annoying skin condition – it can be a lifelong issue that requires constant management, supervision and treatment.  Psoriasis sufferers experience an accelerated skin cell cycle resulting in scaly patches that are typically dry, itchy and painful.  Psoriasis can affect the nails, scalp and areas with sensitive skin like the underarms.  The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis.  Skin lesions (called plaques) can form anywhere on the body.  In severe cases, patient lifespan may be decreased by as many as five years. 
    The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown but the current theory is that it’s related to an immune system dysfunction.  Continued medical advances and treatment options have substantially improved the outlook for psoriasis sufferers.  Emerging treatments center on treating the cause rather than the symptoms.  

    Individuals suffering from psoriasis should consider the following treatment options:
    1. Topical therapy - Topical therapies are applied directly to the skin one or more times per day.  Moisturizing lotion can help keep excessive itching at bay.  Salicylic acid serves as an exfoliator to remove scaly patches.  Products containing coal tar aid in slowing skin cell growth.  Topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation and also slow skin cell growth.  
    2. Phototherapy – Exposure to ultraviolet light curtails rapid skin cell growth and can bring relief to psoriasis sufferers.  It requires a substantial time investment as treatments are typically administered in clinics 2-3 times per week.  Additionally, there can be skin cancer and skin damage risks. 
    3. Oral Systemic Therapy – Systemic therapy is usually recommended for patients achieving little success with other methods.  As with any systemic agent, you must weigh the risks and benefits.  Methotrexate mitigates the immune response and stops rapid skin cell growth.  While it’s an effective treatment for psoriasis, patients utilizing this therapy must have regular blood tests to monitor blood cell and liver function.  Cyclosporine also slows skin cell growth but the benefits only last with consistent use.  Soriatane is a Vitamin A derivative and changes the way skin cells grow.   
    4. Ixekizumab – This promising new therapy approaches the treatment of psoriasis from an entirely different angle.  Rather than suppressing the entire immune system, Ixekizumab inhibits specific components that cause rapid skin cell growth.  Administration during clinical trials (thus far) is time-friendly with induction dosing every two weeks and maintenance dosing at every four weeks.  Clinical trials for lxekizumab are ongoing.
    Talk to your physician about which treatment options are best suited for you, and ask about possible clinical trials for lxekizumab in your area.  

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