Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that occurs when the body’s immune system doesn’t work the way it should. This results in red, scaly patches or bumps on the skin’s surface. These areas can become intensely itchy, dry or painful.
Although there isn’t a cure for psoriasis yet, there are now more treatments than ever before — and they’re all available at RUSH. The earlier you seek expert care, the sooner you can get your symptoms under control.
Signs You May Have Psoriasis
There are several different types of psoriasis. Each type has its own appearance and symptoms, and can affect different parts of the body:
- Thick, raised patches of skin covered in a silvery-white scale (plaques) are a common sign of plaque psoriasis. This type of psoriasis tends to occur on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
- Small, scaly red bumps on the torso, arms and legs may be a sign of guttate psoriasis. This type usually affects children or young adults, and is often triggered by a bacterial infection.
- Smooth, shiny patches found in skin folds (such as the armpits and groin, or under the breasts) may indicate inverse psoriasis. These patches can be painful, especially if they’re irritated by friction or sweat.
- Tiny, pus-filled bumps on the hands and feet can be a sign of pustular psoriasis. This is a painful type of psoriasis that can interfere with your ability to walk or use your hands.
- Discolored or crumbling fingernails and toenails may be a sign of nail psoriasis. This type can also cause your nails to lift up and detach from the nail bed.
Most types of psoriasis follow a lifelong pattern. Your symptoms may improve or even go away for a while, then return for several weeks or months. The period of time when your symptoms return is called a flare-up.
At RUSH, our experienced dermatologists know how to distinguish psoriasis from other skin diseases with similar symptoms, such as eczema. This means we can help you start the right treatments, right away.
If your health insurance plan requires you to have a referral before seeing a dermatologist, start with your primary care provider. If you already have a referral, or you don’t need one, you can make an appointment with the dermatology team at RUSH.
Psoriasis Treatment at RUSH
Today’s treatments offer relief for all types of psoriasis, including rare or severe cases. Our goal is to slow the progression of your psoriasis, reduce or prevent future flare-ups, and relieve your symptoms.
Many kinds of prescription medicine are used to treat psoriasis. These include skin creams, pills, injections and IV infusions:
- Topical medicines: Creams, foams, gels, ointments or liquid solutions applied to the skin can reduce inflammation, relieve itching, help slow excessive skin cell growth and reduce or remove scaly plaques.
- Retinoids: These vitamin A-based drugs help reduce excessive skin cell production.
- Biologics: These modern medicines help break the cycle of inflammation that causes psoriasis flare-ups.
During phototherapy (also known as light therapy), we expose the problem areas on your skin to specific doses of ultraviolet (UV) light. When used alone or in combination with medicine, light therapy can:
- Slow skin cell production
- Reduce inflammation
- Relieve itching
- Improve the appearance of plaques
Depending on the type of light therapy you need, you may have several appointments per week for several weeks in a row.
RUSH Excellence in Psoriasis Care
- Complete, collaborative care: People with psoriasis have a higher-than-average risk of developing certain medical conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, eye inflammation (uveitis), Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and depression. At RUSH, you have access to a large team of specialists who can treat any of the physical and emotional challenges associated with psoriasis. These specialists include experts in rheumatology, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, mental health care and more. They work closely with your dermatologist to improve your overall health and quality of life.
- Dermatologist-led infusions: RUSH offers the only dermatology-directed infusion center in Chicago that specializes in skin disease treatments. This unique outpatient program is managed by RUSH dermatology specialists who are familiar with the latest IV medicines for psoriasis. Not only do we offer immediate, on-site support should you experience any side effects, but we’ll help make your experience a positive one. Our team works with your health insurance provider to make sure your medicines are covered, and can help you maintain your treatment schedule.
- Medication management: As new psoriasis medicines continue to be developed, you have a growing number of treatment options — and, quite possibly, a growing number of questions. Whether you’re concerned about medication side effects or need help managing multiple medicines, we’re here to help. Our dermatology nurses can provide injection training to help you feel more comfortable performing at-home injections. And our specialty pharmacy on the main RUSH campus in Chicago is staffed by pharmacists with advanced knowledge of the newest psoriasis medications, including biologics.