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Center of Dermatology and Laser Surgery of Philadelphia


Written by Dr. Ringpfeil

Psoriasis - Back

Psoriasis is an inherited trait that causes a red, flaky rash that appears on the skin. Although this condition is not contagious, those unfamiliar with psoriasis may shy away from affected individuals. Not only is psoriasis a social burden, but it can also cause physical discomfort. Fortunately, our dermatologists are well-versed in psoriasis and the many treatments available to date. Our practice is one of few that offers PHAROS excimer laser treatments, which deliver focused narrowband UVB light that can provide remission of psoriasis for up to 6 months.

We offer a wide range of treatments for psoriasis including excimer laser, Biologics, topical and oral medications.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition. In order for a person to develop psoriasis, they must have a combination of the genes that cause psoriasis and be exposed to specific external factors, known as triggers, that cause the characteristic rash to erupt. The rash itself is a buildup of rapidly multiplying skin cells. The accelerated rate at which these cells multiply is caused by a problem with the immune system that is still not fully understood.

Psoriasis flares vary in severity from mild, localized, flares with dandruff-like scale, to severe flares with large, thick plaques on multiple parts of the body. The rash of psoriasis cycles through times of improvement and worsening. Severity of the rash is also influenced by the type of psoriasis, the impact the illness has on the individual’s quality of life, and the individual’s susceptibility to side effects from treatment.

About 10-30% of individuals with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis, which can cause stiffness, pain, swelling of the tendons and joints, as well as morning stiffness.

As a chronic inflammatory condition, psoriasis also increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome is present in individuals that have three or more of the following risk factors: obesity, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Treatment of psoriasis is critical to the individual’s overall health. Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are multiple treatments available that can help reduce or eliminate psoriasis symptoms.

Dr. Ringpfeil gives her view on treating psoriasis

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Treatment Options

Treatment is customized to the amount of body surface area affected and the severity of the rash. We understand that not every individual responds to every type of treatment. That is why we offer several treatment options and often use them in combination with each other to help you find relief fast.

Treatments for psoriasis include:

  1. Topical medication
  2. UVB light
  3. Oral medication
  4. Biologics

1. Topical Medications

Topical medications are applied directly to the affected skin to alleviate symptoms, slow cell growth, and reduce inflammation. They are often the first line of defense against psoriasis, especially with limited skin involvement.

2. UVB Therapy

Narrowband UVB light is delivered by our PHAROS Excimer laser. The treatment is directed at the affected skin only, which spares the surrounding healthy tissue. If performed 2-3 times a week for 12-16 treatments, UVB light therapy can achieve remission of psoriasis that lasts for up to 6 months. The treatments are painless and side effects are minimal. Individuals with widespread psoriasis may require full body UVB therapy administered by a phototherapy booth.

Psoriasis before and after treatments, female breasts, patient 1
Treating psoriasis with excimer laser

3. Oral Medications

Oral medications are taken by mouth and affect the body systemically. They are typically used with topical medications or light therapy to provide the best results.

4. Biologics

Biological drugs are mostly given by injection or intravenous infusion. They are unique in that they do not affect the entire immune system, unlike traditional systemic drugs. Instead, biologics target specific parts of the immune system in order to block the action on specific cells and proteins that play a role in developing psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

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Common triggers that can cause the psoriasis rash to erupt include:

  1. Stress
  2. Infections (like strep throat or staphylococcus)
  3. Medications (including lithium, beta blockers, and anti-malarial drugs)
  4. Other skin conditions (scabies, blisters, or boils)
  5. Weather that dries the skin
  6. Hormones (such as surges after puberty and during pregnancy)
  7. Smoking
  8. Excessive alcohol consumption
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Ways to prevent the psoriasis rash from flaring and minimize symptoms include:

  1. Avoid triggers
  2. Care for your skin (moisturize daily, bathe with warm water rather than hot, do not scratch itchy skin)
  3. Care for your whole self (eat a balanced diet, drink water, sleep regularly, avoid smoking)
  4. Reduce stress (management with meditation, counseling, or exercise)

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December 4, 2013 4:38 am

My son has scalp psoraisis treating w salicytic acid and gels . I habe Personal choice insurance and am intersted could you let us know the out of pocket cost upfront before treatment, Also where is your officwe located?

January 24, 2014 4:23 am

I am currently working with my 3rd dermatologist diagnosed with a sever case of scalp psoriasis (finally with biopsy after being misdiagnosed for the first 1.25 yrs. I have tried every topical cream/gel/shampoo/mouse/oil available with no help. I am currently on treatment number 13 excimer laser with little to no benefit. 3 weeks post initiAtion of methotrexate up to 15 mg po weekly. Being followed by rheumatologist and testing for Psoriatic Arthritis. Suffering major hair loss over last 6 months. I am looking for help with hair loss. Has there been permanent damage to my hair follicles? Will my hair grown back? You came HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Currently seeing Gottlieb in Exton. can you help in any way with my hair loss or current situation?

June 15, 2014 8:24 am

On June 11 I went to see a dermatologist regarding my scalp psoriasis, and he told me to use an over the counter product, over night with a shower cap covering head. This is a know medical/over counter product from a reputable and good company. Obviously, this is not the proper way to use this product, and my scalp is burnt and head excruciatingly painful, unable to touch pillow with head to rest or sleep. The company does use a third party medical team to assist with problems, who have been very nice on the telephone; advising me to put Vitamen E, then slather scalp and head with pure Aloe and periodically use cold compresses. Today starts my fourth day of this , and wonder if you have any suggestions…I have not heard from the dermatologist who prescribed this treatment, therefore must move on to other assistance. Thank you for any help or suggestions you might offer me…

August 4, 2014 6:36 am

I have been getting a general uvb treatment for my psoriasis and it has disappeared on most of my body. However, my elbows and some spots on my legs still remain. Is excimer laser treatment an option for those spots, or should I not do more uv-treatments this year since I already have been exposed to quite a lot of uv?

June 24, 2015 8:40 am

How differentiate between psoriasis seborrheic dermatitis?


The Philadelphia Dermatology Center serves patients in our local area as well as surrounding cities and out-of-town. Find the most convenient route to our Philadelphia office, by selecting an area near you.

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