Psoriasis is bothersome because it’s itchy, but even more than the symptoms, many patients are embarrassed by the thick patches of red, scaly skin. Dr. Daniel Marshall at Alpine Dermatology Clinic in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, Idaho, as well as the satellite locations in Arco and Driggs, Idaho, offers complete services to stop psoriasis from developing while eliminating the existing patches to reveal smooth, healthy skin.

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What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that develops when the immune system mistakenly releases hormones that make skin grow more quickly than it should. As new skin cells grow faster than normal, they accumulate into a thickened area of skin – a patch of psoriasis – that turns red and gets covered in scales.

There are 5 types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque (the most common form)
  • Guttate
  • Inverse
  • Pustular
  • Erythrodermic

Psoriasis may develop at any age, but often first appears between the ages of 15-30 years. It commonly occurs on the scalp, face, palms, elbows, knees, soles of the feet, and lower back, but it can develop anywhere on your body. About 10% of patients also develop joint inflammation that causes symptoms similar to arthritis.

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis isn’t contagious, so you can’t get it from contact with another person. It tends to run in families, but inheriting genes that make you susceptible doesn’t mean you’ll develop psoriasis. It turns out that there has to be an interaction between the right genes and specific triggers in the environment that are unique to each person.

  • A few triggers reported by patients with psoriasis include:
  • Infections (strep throat)
  • Cut, scrape, bug bite, sunburn or other injury to skin
  • Stress
  • Cold weather
  • Certain medications

How is psoriasis treated?

When Dr. Marshall treats psoriasis, he aims to accomplish 2 things: Stop skin cells from growing too quickly and remove scaly patches so you regain smooth skin. He will choose from a variety of topical medications that reduce inflammation, slow skin cell growth, remove scales, and relieve itching. In severe cases, or when psoriasis doesn’t respond to topical treatment, the doctor may prescribe oral medications that accomplish the same goals but work from inside the body.

Dr. Marshall may recommend light therapy because controlled exposure to sunlight can help heal psoriasis. He’ll talk about steps you can take at home to repair skin and feel better. For example, taking a daily bath in lukewarm water using oil, Epsom salts, or colloidal oatmeal helps remove scales and relieve inflammation. He will also help you identify triggers and recommend moisturizing products to relieve itching and dryness.