Psoriasis is is a chronic disease that develops when the immune system sends faulty signals that instruct skin cells to grow too quickly. These out-of-control skin cells can appear quite rapidly — forming in days rather than weeks. When a patient with psoriasis does not shed these excess cells, and they pile up on the top surface of the skin, patches of the disease appear. It is a genetic condition and cannot be caught through physical contact.
This condition falls into five categories:
• Systemic therapies — Oral medications are often prescribed. These require regular monitoring through blood work and sometimes, a liver biopsy. Since the drugs used cause severe birth defects, they aren’t prescribed to pregnant women.
• Cyclosporine — Slows the growth of skin cells by directly suppressing the immune system, but it’s limited to nine to 12 months of treatment. Regular monitoring when using cyclosporine is required.
• Biological injectable — Some biologicals can be self-administered, while others must be given by a physician or medical staff.
Vitiligo is a condition that causes light patches on the skin. It affects about 1% to 2% of the American population and may appear anywhere on the body. Vitiligo may start small and then grow larger. The cells that create pigment, the melanocytes, are destroyed when vitiligo occurs. Essentially, the immune system begins attacking the melanocytes, and this results in the loss of pigmentation. Sometimes this may occur due to heredity. The condition usually develops between the ages of 10 to 40.
It is unusual for vitiligo to resolve on its own, although in some cases it may. In most situations, patients must seek treatment to improve the look of their skin if they suffer from vitiligo. Treatment for vitiligo is customized according to the patient. Although there is no known cure for vitiligo, there are ways to improve the overall skin appearance. Treatments may include topical steroid creams and ultraviolet light therapy. While it may not be completely eradicated, the appearance of vitiligo can be greatly reduced with the use of the right customized therapy.