Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Medical Care:

Psoriasis and the Start of Winter
(Problema sa Balat)

Question: Marimar (Korea), November 17, 2008

I went to see a doctor here in Korea about some very itchy spots on both my legs. I've had this for a while and it has gotten worst now that it's colder. They gave me medication to apply on it. They say it's psoriasis, but I could not understand their explanation. Can you tell me what psoriasis is and what causes this? I have never had this before, so how did I get this? Thank you!

Dear Marimar,

Psoriasis is a condition of the skin that is characterized by inflammation that leads to the eruption of lesions on the skin. These can be in the form of plaques, which are like thickened flakes of silvery skin. They can come out anywhere in the body, but the most common areas affected are the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp. The affected skin is irritated, itchy, and sometimes bleeds. Psoriasis is considered a "chronic" disorder, and this means that it is lifelong. Patients experience attacks and remissions throughout their lives. Some have very mild forms while others have very severe attacks. Recent studies have linked certain genes to this condition.

The specific causes of psoriasis has not been isolated, but certain "triggers" to psoriatic attacks have been discovered. These are infections, certain drugs (beta blockers, anti-malarials), stress, changes in weather, skin injury, heavy alcohol intake, and smoking. In your case, it is probably the onset of winter that triggered it. Keep in mind that this may happen every year during winter from now on.

Treatment options include topical agents, light therapy, or oral medications for severe cases. Since this may become a long-term problem, regular follow up with your dermatologist is advisable.

Thank you for your question.

Priscilla D. Sanchez, M.D.
Medical Coordinator
For service@ofwparasapamilya.com

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