The risks of treating psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inherited skin condition affecting thousands of adults and children worldwide. The condition causes an over production of skin cells resulting in an excess of immature cells on the skin’s surface.

Psoriasis features dry, thick, red patches of skin with silvery scales. It is most common on the elbows, knees, scalp and torso. A scratch, illness or even stress may cause the condition to flare up. There is no cure for psoriasis so the condition must be treated constantly to be kept under control.

“There is a great deal of itching and a lot of embarrassment because of the very dramatic appearance of skin lesions,” said dermatologist Dr Rebedah Oyler.

Choosing the right treatment for your psoriasis is not easy and will often require consultation with your doctor. Some medications may cause damage to the liver or kidneys.

The safest form of treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis is phototherapy although long term use still carries some risks, mainly of skin cancer. In phototherapy the ultra violet light calms the response of the immune system to the skin which causes the outbreaks.

“The light box machines are calibrated so that we know exactly how much light energy the person is receiving,” Dr Oyler said.

Of course the new range of probiotic medications are also effective in treating moderate to severe psoriasis. Although approved for use the long-term side effects of these drugs are still not fully known, as they are still very new to the market.

If you have moderate to severe psoriasis discuss the side effects of the chosen treatment options with your doctor so that you are able to make an educated decision regarding your choice of treatment.

Mel Sinclair, RN