Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects more than 7.5 million people in the United States. Triggered by a disorder in your autoimmune system, psoriasis looks like thick, silvery scales or itchy, dry, red patches usually found on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, and feet.
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. Your symptoms may vary in severity and look different from others affected by psoriasis.
Below are some of the most common symptoms of psoriasis:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery plates that resemble tiny fish scales
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning, or soreness
- Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
There are several types of psoriasis, each with distinctive symptoms:
- Plaque psoriasis: causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales.
- Nail psoriasis: affects your fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. It can even cause your nails to crumble.
- Scalp psoriasis: appears as red, itchy areas on the head with silvery-white scales.
- Guttate psoriasis: manifests as small, water-drop-shaped sores on your trunk, arms, legs, and scalp.
- Inverse psoriasis: causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin in your armpits, the groin, under the breasts, and around the genitals.
- Pustular psoriasis: develops quickly, with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after your skin becomes red and tender. It can also cause fever, chills, severe itching, and diarrhea.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely.
- Psoriatic arthritis: causes painful joints that are typical of arthritis accompanied by red, inflamed, itchy skin.
Our team members are experienced in the use of many treatments for severe psoriasis that may not be readily available outside of a major medical center. Patients can be managed with topical or systemic medications as an out-patient or, if necessary, at the largest in-patient service in the U.S.
Ointment or Cream
You may need to apply an ointment, cream, or lotion to the affected area to help reduce bothersome symptoms related to psoriasis. A topical steroid cream may be prescribed in more extreme cases of the condition.
In more severe cases of psoriasis, your dermatologist may recommend light therapy, or phototherapy, to help reduce rashes related to this condition and to control itching. Although natural sunlight is sometimes used for certain diseases, artificially produced ultraviolet light is generally used as it is easily controlled, is available and is convenient and less time consuming for patients. The phototherapy equipment available in the department has capability of producing UVB and UVA. UVB is short wavelength UV that is often used in the hospital to treat psoriasis. UVA is longer wavelength UV used with the drug psoralen in the treatment referred to as PUVA and is generally used in an outpatient setting. In addition, narrow band UVB is now available.
In this treatment, your dermatologist uses a highly targeted medical laser to treat the symptoms of psoriasis.
Your dermatologist may recommend you take certain vitamins, which can help your body combat the underlying autoimmune condition that causes psoriasis symptoms.
Your dermatologist may prescribe other medications — including newer, injectable biologic medicines — that can help combat psoriasis. Patients can be managed with methotrexate, Soriatane, hydroxyurea, cyclosporine, CellCept, UVB, and PUVA, as well as the newer biologic agents such as Enbrel, Amevieve, Raptiva and Remicade. Sometimes it is advisable to combine or rotate these treatments to obtain maximum benefit for the patient. Speak with us about the options that may be appropriate for you and your condition.
Through a medical examination of your skin, we can accurately diagnose and determine the best way to treat your psoriasis.
To confirm the diagnosis and cause of your psoriasis, we may remove a small section of the affected skin (biopsy) and send it to a laboratory for analysis.
Why Choose UHealth?
Largest in-patient dermatology service in the United States Located at UHealth Tower, the facilities are equipped with the newest equipment. Approximately 500 patients are admitted to the hospital during a calendar year. The diseases treated vary from psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, cutaneous lymphoma, severe infections of the skin, immunobullous disorders, and severe reactions to medicines such as toxic epidermal necrolysis. The dermatology unit has individual rooms and therapeutic modalities such as ultraviolet light therapy, photopheresis, and hydrotherapy.
World-class leaders in skin care treatment. University of Miami Health System is recognized throughout South Florida and the world as a leader in caring for conditions and disorders of the skin. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide superior, personalized treatments for dermatologic conditions.
Compassionate care in an academic medical center. You benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and latest medical advancements developed by our researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. You will receive the most accurate diagnosis and a detailed plan to keep your skin healthy.
Questions? We're here to help.
Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.