Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The "heartbreak" of psoriasis

The term "heartbreak" was used decades ago in a commercial for some psoriasis cure--and in our family we have called this autoimmune disease "the heartbreak" ever since. In an ironical way, of course.

Yes, psoriasis, a hereditary disorder, can be unsightly--a scaly red rash--and can spread over quite large areas...My sister once had it all over almost, in a terrible outbreak. I have had elbow patches on and off all my life--and a patch on the back of my hand for 30 yrs.

Psoriasis affects 2% to 5% of the population--meaning 16 million people in this country.

It is  not just a skin disease--it's a multi-system inflammatory disease of the immune system, which can also affect the joints.

People with psoriasis are also at higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity. Groan--all my favorites.

But--it is not contagious. It runs in families but they do not catch it from each other.

Time was, there were few treatments. UV light was one--sunlamps. My dad used to train a sunlamp on his patches while shaving.

Now, sufferers may be able to get relief from:

--Topical treatments--corticosteroids, Vitamin D, anthralin, coal tar, and salicylic acid.

--Phototherapy--UV under medical supervision--not a tanning bed.

--Traditional systemi treatments by mouth, injection, or infusion. These include acitretin, cyclosporine, and methotrexate.

--Biologic agents--protein based drugs that target specific parts of the immune system--such as TNF-alphas blockers, or IL-17 inhibitors.

The American Academy of Dermatologists urges people to check out the new approaches. Get checkups for the other, possibly related disorders, and RELAX.

Stress makes psoriasis worse. Great, now I am stressed from writing this.

By the way, the new biologics as advertised on TV seem to have some pretty scary side effects. Check everything out.

Also--those commercials? The people cringing in self-disgust and not being able to get a date--be real.

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