Plaque psoriasis, a persistent skin condition, tends to worsen with age, presenting unique challenges for the elderly. It’s crucial for seniors and their caregivers to comprehend the condition’s impact and learn effective management strategies as recommended by healthcare professionals.

Understanding Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is a chronic, uncomfortable autoimmune disease that accelerates the turnover of skin cells, leading to the formation of unsightly red and white scaly patches. These patches are often rough, itchy, and can appear on various parts of the body including the scalp, knees, elbows, and back. In severe cases, it can affect the entire body. Factors such as skin type, lifestyle habits like smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress can increase the risk of developing this condition.

Triggers and Treatment Overview

Various triggers can induce flare-ups, including specific foods, sun exposure, emotional stress, and skin irritation. Although there is no cure for plaque psoriasis, several treatments can alleviate symptoms, reduce flare-ups, and enhance quality of life. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Prescription Topical Treatments

Doctors often prescribe topical treatments, which are creams applied directly to the affected areas. These treatments slow down skin cell production and reduce inflammation. Topical steroids, derived from corticosteroid hormones, are common due to their anti-inflammatory properties. For some, a combination of a topical corticosteroid with a retinoid may be recommended for a more effective treatment plan.

If steroids are unsuitable, non-steroidal topical medications may be advised, containing ingredients like anthralin, synthetic vitamin D3, and vitamin A, which help manage psoriasis symptoms.

Over-The-Counter (OTC) Options

For milder cases, OTC topical treatments, including lotions, shampoos, and bath solutions containing FDA-approved salicylic acid and coal tar, can provide relief. These products may also include ingredients like aloe vera and jojoba to moisturize the skin and reduce itching.

UVB Light Therapy

UVB light therapy utilizes natural sunlight rays to slow the growth of affected skin cells. The FDA has endorsed two types of UV light treatments, which can be administered in medical settings or at home with a phototherapy device. Narrow-band UVB therapy is preferred for its efficiency and safety.

Oral Treatments

For those who do not respond well to UV light therapy, systemic treatments might be considered. These oral medications, including Soriatane and Cyclosporine, target the body’s inflammatory response and are generally prescribed for moderate to severe cases.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Adjustments

Several home remedies can offer temporary relief. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals before trying these methods. Recommendations include antihistamines for itching, short lukewarm baths with mild soap, regular moisturizing, and the use of coconut oil or Dead Sea salts for hydration.

Further Considerations

Accurate diagnosis is vital for effective treatment. Doctors may perform various tests, such as skin biopsies and blood tests, to rule out other conditions that mimic psoriasis, such as eczema or dermatitis.

In summary, while plaque psoriasis poses significant challenges for seniors, understanding the condition, recognizing triggers, and following a comprehensive treatment plan can greatly improve management and quality of life.