Psoriasis is one of the most common dermatologic diseases, affecting up to 1% of the world’s population. It is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder clinically characterized by erythematous, sharply demarcated papules and rounded plaques, covered by silvery micaceous scale. The skin lesions of psoriasis are variably pruritic. Traumatized areas often develop lesions of psoriasis (Koebner or isomorphic phenomenon).
Treatment of psoriasis depends on the type, location, and extent of disease. All patients should be instructed to avoid excess drying or irritation of their skin and to maintain adequate cutaneous hydration. Most patients with localized, plaque-type psoriasis can be managed with midpotency topical glucocorticoids, although their long-term use is often accompanied by loss of effectiveness (tachyphylaxis) and atrophy of the skin. A topical vitamin D analogue (calcipotriene) and a retinoid (tazarotene) are also efficacious in the treatment of limited psoriasis and have largely replaced other topical agents such as coal tar, salicylic acid, and anthralin.
Ultraviolet light, natural or artificial, is an effective therapy for many patients with widespread psoriasis. Ultraviolet B (UV-B) light, narrowband UV-B, and ultraviolet A (UV-A) spectrum with either oral or topical psoralens (PUVA) are also extremely effective. The long-term use of UV light may be associated with an increased incidence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer. UV light therapy is contraindicated in patients receiving cyclosporine and should be used with great care in all immunocompromised patients due to an increased risk of developing skin cancers.
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