What Is Plaque Psoriasis and How Is It Treated?

Plaque-type psoriasis or plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis an individual can have. In fact, up to 80-90 percent of psoriasis cases are represented by plaque psoriasis. It involves discreet plaques of red skin with silvery thickened dead skin cells overlying the redness. The most common parts of the body affected by plaque psoriasis are the elbows and the knees (on the outer aspect). Plaque psoriasis is not catchy; instead, it is an autoimmune disease that has hereditary implications.

Plaque psoriasis can affect the skin and also affects the emotional life of the affected individual. Because it is unsightly, people with plaque psoriasis feel like pariahs and are reluctant to get near people or develop relationships for fear of getting ostracized for their appearance. The lesions can flake off and look like dandruff, which is embarrassing for the individual who often wants nothing more than to be accepted by others.

There are fortunately treatments for plaque psoriasis, much of which involves the use of topical agents. Topical coal tar preparations can be used for the scalp, face and other body parts. It works well but unfortunately stains clothing and stinks. For this reason, most people use it at night and cover the areas with old clothes and socks. The coal tar is washed off in the morning and when one shampoos with coal tar shampoo, it is left on for ten minutes after which nice smelling shampoo or conditioner is used in order to cover up the smell.

Psoriasis patients with plaque psoriasis often use topical steroid cream. Doctors prescribe strong topical creams and gels, and patients apply them during the day to reduce the inflammation of the psoriatic lesions. Topical steroid cream is safe and easy to use but can cause systemic effects if used on really damaged skin and in high potencies.

Other treatments for plaque psoriasis include topical calcipotriol cream, which is a derivative of vitamin D3. Another similar treatment is called topical tacalcitol. These can be slightly irritating to the skin but work very well to reduce the inflammation of plaque psoriasis. Derivatives of Vitamin A include Accutane and other retinoids which are often used along with light therapy.

PUVA stands for psoralen plus UVA therapy. This involves taking a medicine that sensitizes you to UVA light and then using light therapy every few days to expose the affected skin to UVA light. It works well and the only real risks are that of becoming sunburned or the distant risk of having skin cancer later in life. PUVA therapy and UVB therapy are also limited to those who can get to the dermatologist’s office often enough to make the therapy work. Exposure to sunlight works but is not as good of a treatment in places where there are a lot of cloudy days.

Biologics are excellent therapy for plaque type psoriasis, especially if it is severe or moderately severe. It involves injections of medications like Enbrel and Humira that are given every other week for up to three months. After the injections work for the psoriasis, many people are happy with the results and can stop the injections for several months after that. These medications work on the immune system to block the immune response in plaque psoriasis.