Psoriasis is a skin condition that can occur in varying degrees in some people. It causes an overgrowth of cells on the body. This disorder can be an annoyance, or it can cause more serious problems. Caregivers can help seniors manage symptom by understanding the causes and different forms of treatment.
How It Forms
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that can be a chronic problem for those affected with it. The cells of our body are constantly renewing themselves. However, sometimes the process of cell renewal accelerates and a thick layer of white or silvery cells develop in patches on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body. This disorder can occur along with other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and heart disease. Treatment of the skin conditions must be done in tandem with treatments for the other illnesses. Thirty percent of those with symptoms will develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes swelling, soreness and stiffness of joints.
The onset of the disorder has a genetic component. Researchers believe that up to 10 percent of the population may have the genes that make them susceptible to this disease. Then, certain triggers must occur for the overgrowth of cells to begin. Stress, injury to the skin, medications, allergies and diet are implicated in the onset of symptoms.
Topical corticosteroid medications are applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and suppress the immune reaction. Other types of topical creams are often used, such as vitamin D creams, retinoid compounds, Anthralin, salicylic acid compounds, calcium inhibitors or coal tars.
Light therapy can also be applied to affected areas to encourage healing and inhibit immune system reactions. Either natural or artificial light is used. UVA and UVB light is often used in combination with medications.
Methotrexate, a powerful drug used to treat cancer, can be used to treat severe cases. Cyclosporine helps to suppress the immune system that causes the overgrowth of cells. Biologic drugs can also be infused into the body to suppress the immune reaction.
Managing Psoriasis in Seniors
Caregivers helping aging parents to deal with symptoms can help by seeing that the senior bathes regularly to remove excess skin cells, moisturizes affected areas and exposes the skin to small amounts of sunlight. Keeping the senior on a healthy diet with no alcohol and no smoking can also help to control the condition.