By Allyson Eichner, Pharm.D. Candidate 2014, Creighton University
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the body’s skin cells. It is the most common autoimmune disease and affects approximately 7.5 million Americans. The disease is caused by an error in the body’s immune system which sends out improper signals to skin cells, telling them to speed up replication. For most patients, this results in painful, red, itchy patches and silvery-white plaques that form on the surface of the skin. While other types of psoriasis exist, “plaque psoriasis” is the most common form of the disease.
Many people confuse psoriasis with another common skin condition, eczema. Eczema is a condition of dry, flaky skin that can be made worse by harsh soaps that further dry the skin, or contact with fragrances that cause an allergic reaction. Unlike psoriasis, patients with eczema also commonly suffer from food or seasonal allergies. The two diseases can further be separated based on the timing and location of the rash. The first episode of eczema normally appears before a child turns five. Rashes are limited to the backs of the knees, inside elbow creases, hands, forearms and face. Psoriasis, on the other hand, typically appears in adulthood. The rash occurs on the fronts of the knees, elbows, hairline and lower back.1, 2
During the month of August, the National Psoriasis Foundation works to raise awareness, encourage research and advocate for better care for patients with psoriasis. Recent research suggests that people with psoriasis may be at risk for other serious medical events. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found an association between the severity of psoriasis and rates of lung disease, diabetes, heart attack, and other serious diseases increased as well. While no cause and effect relationship was proven, it is suggested that patients with psoriasis seek out treatment before it becomes severe.
While moderate to severe psoriasis is treated with oral or injectable drugs, less severe forms are normally treated with creams or ointments. Current research shows that topical drugs, such as corticosteroids and Vitamin D analogues, can decrease symptoms by reducing inflammation and preventing skin cells from over-proliferating. Many providers will prescribe treatments for psoriasis that require compounding your prescription. Kelley-Ross pharmacy is a PCAB accredited compounding pharmacy. They can work with you and your doctor to create a topical treatment that’s tailored to fit your needs. Whether your provider determines that a traditional or a compounded medication is right for you, Kelley-Ross Pharmacy is your resource for quality pharmacy services.
- Weston W, Howe W. Patient information: Atopic dermatitis (eczema) (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate.com. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/atopic-dermatitis-eczema-beyond-the-basics. Updated 2/16/2012. Accessed 8/26/2013.
- Feldman S. Patient information: Psoriasis (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate.com. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/psoriasis-beyond-the-basics. Updated 8/2/2011. Accessed 8/26/2013.