Plaque Psoriasis: It may live on the skin but it starts from within

7.5 million people live with this disease
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 3:07 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - It causes puffy rashes, itchiness, and flaky scales and many people confuse it for either eczema or other topical rashes but plaque psoriasis is a different chronic condition. Doctors say it may live on the skin but it starts from within.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, it affects 2 to 3% of the United States population. Dermatologists say because it’s an autoimmune disease, it requires medication. One local dermatologist says there is medicine to treat it and control the outbreaks. A Yale Psoriasis expert says there may be medicine but he believes a clinical trial that targets proteins in the body may give us a better understanding of how to help manage this incurable disease.

Usually, our immune system cells work together to protect us from illnesses, but with plaque psoriasis, our immune system speeds up causing some cells to attack each other leaving inflamed plaques piled up on the skin. Dr. Lycia Thornburg, a Dermatologist at the Rapid City Medical Center says, “With psoriasis, the skin grows in days rather than weeks and these large pink salmon-colored plaques are very hard to treat cause they are growing so quickly, normal cells grow a new layer of epidermis every 4 to 6 weeks in psoriasis that happens every 5 to 7 days and they thickly adhere to each other and if they rip off, It can cause an inflammatory reaction, that makes psoriasis worse.” Thornburg says you can’t cure psoriasis, “psoriasis is permanent. It’s a chronic non-curable inflammatory disease but with the newer Biologics medication that treat the cause of psoriasis, you can get it to be controlled so it’s always present so we can treat it. We can give you medicines to alleviate the systems or make them go away but the underlying genetic cause is always there.”

It was always there for Nitika Chopra, a Plaque Psoriasis Survivor and a contributor to the Clear Understanding campaign, “I learned I had moderate to severe plaque psoriasis as a young kid. It was a really challenging time. I found myself getting bullied and teased at school and I found myself isolating a lot.” Because of her symptoms, Chopra quit soccer and felt the disease took over her life. Chopra said, “It actually impacted my ability to do social activities, like I loved playing soccer and it something we don’t think about when we think about a skin condition like psoriasis but psoriasis is so much more than a skin condition.”

Doctors say psoriasis is much more than applying creams, it affects your joints, immune system, and mental and emotional health. Dr. Bruce Strober, Dermatologist and Plaque Psoriasis Expert, Yale School of Medicine, “They are embarrassed by these plaques because of their appearance and also the plaques usually shed scales or flakes.”

Strober says, that although the current meds treating the disease are effective there is one that’s having positive results. “It’s a prescription medicine and it’s unique because it targets a protein in the body called TYKTU, and we believe TYKTU is part of why psoriasis occurs in patients and therefore targeting it, inhibiting TYKTU with the medicine SOTYKTU is potentially effective in many people.” He says that 50% of people in the TYKTU clinical trials had clear skin.

Both Thornburg and Strober say there are side effects with any medicine and it’s important to get on a treatment plan because 30% of people with psoriasis that’s not treated properly eventually develop psoriatic arthritis. As for Chopra, she started a BlogSpot for those looking for mental health help in battling psoriasis.