10 Tips to Manage Psoriasis and Eczema This Winter

PRWEB.COM Newswire Roslyn Heights, NY (PRWEB) November 19, 2014
A shocking number of Americans have psoriasis and eczema–39 million adults and children–which is more than four times the population of New York City, the largest city in the US. According to dermatology specialists Dr. Joshua Fox and Dr. Robert Levine with Advanced Dermatology, PC, the seasonal change to cold, dry air creates difficulties for people dealing with these chronic skin disorders.

“It is important to manage symptoms,” says Dr. Fox, who has served on the board of the National Psoriasis Foundation. “Psoriasis and eczema can be painful. They can make everyday actions uncomfortable for adults and children, men and women, and they carry a stigma that can lead to a loss of self-esteem, depression, and other health complications.”

psoriasis

Psoriasis on the elbow

Symptoms

Psoriasis appears on the skin as red or white, scaly patches that often itch and bleed. The patches can also look scaly or silvery in color. Nails can become yellow, ridged and separate from the nail bed. Up to 30 percent of people with the disease develop psoriatic arthritis, and recent studies indicate that patients with moderate to severe disease are also at increased risk for other associated health conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, depression and hypertension.

Eczema, a hypersensitivity disease, inflames the skin, causing pain, itching, dryness, swelling, cracking, weeping and scaling. Eczema lesions can bubble, ooze, and crust over if scratched. Skin infections can occur if bacteria invade the skin lesions.

Diagnosis

“Once patients understand their psoriasis or eczema is not contagious, they seem to be relieved,” says Dr. Fox. “They are comforted to know there is help for their symptoms.”

Psoraisis is an autoimmune disease apparently cause by an overactive immune system that overproduces skin cells. Eczema, on the other hand, is caused by a deficient immune system in which an imbalance of skin proteins creates skin sensitivities. “This is a significant distinction because it informs treatment,” explains Dr. Fox. “A dermatologist will diagnose the condition and provide the most effective care for individual patients.”

Psoriasis treatments:

  • Topical creams, such as corticosteroids, calcipotriene, anthralin, salicylic acid, and coal tars, to reduce inflammation and dissolve skin lesions
  • Laser therapy with ultraviolet (UVB) light
  • Systemic medications taken orally or by injection that suppress or control the immune system

Eczema treatments:

  • Topical creams, such as corticosteroids (severe) and hydrocortisones (mild), to reduce inflammation
  • Immunomodulator creams that control inflammation and immune system reactions
  • Systemic pills that suppress the immune system
  • Prescription strength moisturizers that restore the skin barrier
  • Oral antihistamines to relieve inflammation
  • Diluted bleach baths and antibiotics to treat infection

Dr. Fox’s and Dr. Levine’s tips for managing psoriasis and eczema throughout the winter

  • Moisturize. Use a non-irritating, fragrance-free moisturizer. Thick ointments are best for locking in moisture and repairing the skin barrier.
  • Limit bathing. Take warm (not hot) baths not more than once per day. Pat the skin dry with a towel (do not rub) and apply moisturizer immediately following.
  • Choose a mild, non-irritating soap. Use sparingly.
  • Use a humidifier indoors. The ideal range is 45-55 percent humidity.
  • Wear loose, soft clothing. Choose cotton over wool, denim, or other harsh fabrics. Wear gloves and scarfs outside to protect exposed skin.
  • Avoid sweating. Sweat can trigger flare-ups. Wear wicking fabrics and change out of damp or snowy clothes as soon as possible.
  • Keep fingernails short. This decreases the likelihood that scratching will tear the skin and lead to infection.
  • Hydrate. Drink plenty of water.
  • Reduce stress. While this is easier said than done during the busy holidays, stress can trigger flares.
  • Identify and eliminate possible triggers. Some common triggers include wool, soaps, fragrance, pet fur, cosmetics, and household cleaners. Some patients have found relief by altering their diets.

Dr. Levine counsels that people with either psoriasis or eczema should consult their dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis and discuss the pros and cons of different treatments options.

Advanced Dermatology P.C., the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) provides cutting edge medical, laser & cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery services. http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com

Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D. is the founder and medical director at Advanced Dermatology P.C. He is a leading authority in the field of dermatology with expertise in skin cancer, cosmetic surgery and laser procedures and is program director of a fellowship in laser and cosmetic surgery

Robert Levine, D.O., F.A.O.C.D. is experienced in many areas of medical and surgical dermatology with an interest in cosmetics.

Beware of Skin Signs of Illness and Disease

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Beware of Skin Signs of Illness and Disease

While moisturizers and make-up, facial peels and Botox can make our skin look beautiful and young, sometimes the external skin discolorations, blemishes, blotches or other unsightly marks we seek to remove are actually signs of an underlying internal disease. And your dermatologist may be the critical first line of defense against serious illness such as cancer, lupus, high cholesterol, pulmonary and cardiac disease, among others.

“While many patients come to our offices searching for ways to look and feel more beautiful by removing or reducing unsightly skin lesions or discolorations, some of those marks may actually be a sign of an internal disease or illness,” says Joshua Fox, MD, a leading dermatologist, founder of Advanced Dermatology and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. It turns out that in scheduling regular visits with their dermatologist patients’ are actually taking an important first step in managing their overall health. Dermatologists will recognize which skin marks can be resolved with cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or cosmetic surgeries and which require a visit to a primary physician or specialist who can treat the underlying causes.

Dr. Fox cited 12 examples of dermatological problems that may be the first signs of internal disease.

1. Xanthelasma, or flat, yellowish plaque on the outside of the eyelid, usually close to the nose. These non-cancerous blemishes are composed of fatty material and typically appear after age 40. One-third of patients with xanthelasma, which occurs twice as often in women as in men, have an elevated serum cholesterol level. When they appear in teenagers and young adults, xanthelasmas are almost always a warning sign of high cholesterol levels.

2. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), or purplish rash on the stomach. This rash may signal blood cancer or lymphoma. It is not known what triggers TTP, but some factors that may play a role include pregnancy, cancer, HIV, infection and lupus.

3. Scaling skin, or loss of the outer layer of epidermis in large, scale-like flakes. This condition may be caused by illnesses including hypoparathyroidism (decreased function of the parathyroid glands); ringworm (a fungal skin infection); psoriasis (a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system); Kawasaki disease (an uncommon childhood illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels), and toxic shock syndrome (a rare, often life-threatening illness, that develops suddenly after an infection and can rapidly affect several organ systems, including the lungs, kidneys and liver).

4. Severe psoriasis. A five-year study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found genetic links between psoriasis, the systemic skin disease, and heart disease. The study showed that people, especially those under 40, with severe psoriasis are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and death because they have higher than average blood cholesterol levels.

5. Follicular plugging, or inactive hair follicles. Particularly when found in the ears, this symptom can be a sign of lupus, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation, swelling, pain and damage.

6. Raynaud’s phenomenon, or cold hands and extremities. In this condition, the blood vessels in the fingers or toes tighten, severely limiting the flow of blood to the skin and resulting in the feeling of cold hands or feet. While most cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon have no known cause, some people may develop Raynaud’s as a result of a disease such as lupus, scleroderma, atherosclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

7. Cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, some cancers (besides skin cancer, or melanoma) can cause skin symptoms or signs that can be seen. These include: darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation), yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), reddened skin (erythema), itching and excessive hair growth. In fact, skin changes may be the first sign of an internal malignancy. These signs of skin disease may appear before, with or after the detection of an associated cancer. In a patient whose cancer is in remission, these skin changes may be the first sign of the cancer recurring.

8. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin. Jaundice is a key sign of chronic liver disease.

9. Pruritis, or intense itching, along with dry skin and changes in skin color. These symptoms may be a sign of kidney or liver disease.

10. Pale or flesh-colored lesions on the backs of the fingers or hands; vitiligo, or depigmentation of the skin; or dull, red oval papules with small blisters. These skin marks may signal diabetes.

11. Painful erythematous (red skin) on the face, extremities and body. These symptoms, often combined with fever, malaise, arthralgias, myalgias and conjunctivitis in middle-aged women, may be a sign of Sweet’s Syndrome, or acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis, Sweet’s syndrome can occur with inflammatory bowel disease, bowel bypass syndrome and pregnancy.

12. Unusual freckling, especially in children. Children who develop unusual freckling, or light brown “café au lait” spots on the skin, measuring more than 5 millimeters in diameter, may be at risk for neurofibromatoses, a group of three disorders of the nervous system that cause tumors to grow around the nerves. The freckling can appear in adolescents and adults, as well, but are larger, measuring more than 15 millimeters across. Tumors begin in the cells of the thin membrane that envelops and protects nerve fibers, and often spread into nearby areas. The type of tumor that develops depends on its location in the body and the kind of cells involved. The most common tumors are neurofibromas, which develop in the tissue surrounding peripheral nerves. Most tumors are not malignant, but they may become cancerous over time.

“These are just a few of the internal diseases that may present initially via the skin,” Dr. Fox says. “The skin is our largest and most visible organ. By examining your skin regularly, keeping track of changes to the skin and including a dermatologist in your regular schedule of physician check ups, you will be taking an important first step toward ensuring your overall health.”

New Treatments For PSORIASIS Sufferers

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New Treatments For PSORIASIS Sufferers

An estimated 4.5 million American adults (about 2.1 percent of the population) have been diagnosed with psoriasis, a noncontagious skin disease that causes patches of itchy, red, cracking, painful and scaly skin that sometimes bleeds. (more…)