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An Overview of Psoriasis Diagnosis and Treatment

A recently published article compiles an overview of psoriasis diagnosis and treatment for this increasingly prevalent autoimmune inflammatory disease.

 

Psoriasis is a multisystem inflammatory disease which presents primarily at the skin and joints. It has been estimated to impact 1.7% of Canada’s population. Affecting all sexes equally, the condition is likely to occur between the ages of 16 and 22, and later between the ages of 57 to 60. Psoriasis can also have a significant psychological impact on the patient in terms of social stigmas and personal stress. Despite several adverse effects, psoriasis remains underdiagnosed and untreated in many patients. As a result, an article published by the Canadian Family Physician provides a summary of the disease with respect to its diagnosis and available treatment options.

The literature review consisted of studies obtained from medical databases including PubMed, Medline, Embase, and Cochrane. Data from randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses and observational studies published between January 1991 and December 2015 on psoriasis were included in the review. For relevant studies, references were also analyzed. Diagnosis was categorized based on the type of psoriasis, ranging from plaque psoriasis, to flexural, nail, scalp, and palmoplantar psoriasis. Varying treatment options were compared for each type of psoriasis and the most effective form of therapy was emphasized. Side effects of the condition were considered and beneficial treatments with respect to side effects were discussed.

Research concluded that the most common form of psoriasis was chronic plaque psoriasis which affects  approximately 80-90% of patients. Symptoms are characterized as the formation of plaques on the scalp, buttocks, trunk and extremities. Appropriate treatment can be offered in terms of the severity of the condition, further subcategorized into mild, moderate, and severe symptoms. The research also identified less common forms of psoriasis which include annular, erythrodermic, and guttate psoriasis. These differ from the more common types in their unique morphology. In cases of less common psoriasis types, a skin biopsy may be recommended. For mild to moderate conditions, topically administered drugs are presented as first line therapy. Increasing severity can be diagnosed and treated through dermatologist assessments and systemic therapy. Suggested topical therapies include corticosteroids, vitamin D3 analogs, and combination products. Recommended systemic therapies include phototherapy, acitretin, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and biologic therapy.

The article effectively summarized diagnosis of psoriasis in various existing forms and the variety of treatments available for each type. The research encourages individuals to get dermatological assessments and regular check-ups for improved diagnosis and effective treatment of psoriasis at early stages. Recognition of the condition at early stages not only offers easier treatment options, but also lowers risk factors for other diseases and decreases potential side effects. It further lowers financial costs of second-line treatment and provides increased efficacy of the relatively easily accessible, first-line therapy.

 

Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc

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