· Psoriasis is a chronic and often painful skin disease in which skin cells reproduce much faster than normal.
· This non-contagious disease causes round, reddish skin patches with silvery scales to develop on the scalp, knees, elbows, hands and feet.
· Psoriasis affects more than7 million people in the United States, with approximately 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
· Treatment options include
· Topical medications containing cortisone-like compounds, synthetic vitamin D (calcipotriene), tar or anthralin;
· Oral medications, such as methotrexate, retinoids or cyclosporine;
· New biologic agents, which work by blocking the activation of T-cells, a type of white blood cell known as the key immune system trigger in the development of psoriasis;
· The first biologic to be approved by the FDA for the treatment of psoriasis is alefacept; a second biologic that is FDA-approved for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis and is currently in phase III trials for the treatment of psoriasis is etanercept.
· Tazarotene, aretinoid made from vitamin A that has been available in a gel formulation, was recently introduced in a cream formulation that is better tolerated by many patients; and
· Light therapy, in combination with topical or oral medications, and PUVA light treatments (when psoriasis has not responded to other treatments or is widespread).