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Psoriasis, a kind of hyperkeratinization, causes rapid cell turnover at the skin’s surface, and results in dry, thick, itchy, or scaly skin patches. The condition is an autoimmune disorder that happens when the body’s immune system T cells mistakenly attack healthy dermal cells instead of pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. This is a chronic condition, and skin patches may appear in varying severity. Some people aren’t bothered by occasional thickened, red, or silvery-looking lesions but others suffer with constant, visible plaques. Patients may feel disabled by the disease, and social anxiety or self-esteem issues may result. Fortunately, Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta can offer a variety of treatment options to help patients clear and manage symptoms.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), treatment may include sunlight and other light therapies, salicylic acid, prescription medicines, stress reduction and certain climatotherapies. Daily bathing to remove scales and prescription moisturizers to soothe inflammation and redness can also help. The dermatologist will advise patients to avoid potential irritants, such as detergent-based soaps, and hot water in self-care.


Dr. Kathleen J. Smith, a triple board-certified physician, must first diagnose the patient’s condition. Most patients with the disease present with just one type. In some cases, though, a patient’s symptoms clear and another type develops in response to an autoimmune trigger. Researchers believe that infection, allergies, stress, or over-exposure to sunlight may trigger outbreaks.


The dermatologist may identify one or more types of the disease during a patient examination, including:

  • Vulgaris, the most common form of the condition, frequently presents as raised and red skin patches topped with silvery-white skin cells (scaling). These plaques show up on patients’ lower back, scalp, elbows, or knees. They may itch or feel sore and, if the scale is peeled away or picked at, they may crack or bleed.
  • Guttate, the second most common form, may first present in the years of childhood to young adulthood. About ten percent of patients with the disease present with this type.
  • Inverse, also called the intertriginous form, appears in flaming red patches within body folds. The lesions may be smooth or shiny. A large percentage of patients with this type concurrently present with another form of the disease.
  • Pustular, as the name implies, presents with white pus-filled blisters within red, inflamed surrounding skin. The pus blisters aren’t the result of infection and aren’t contagious to others. White blood cells resulting from the proliferation of keratinocytes create these blisters.
  • Erythrodermic, is a very serious and potentially life-threatening form of the disease! Highly inflamed, pus-filled blisters present in this type. Erythrodermic psoriasis can occur one or more times when a patient suffers with another form of the disease, such as an unstable (lesions do not have well-defined borders) plaque form. Patients experience extreme itching and pain with an outbreak. An outbreak is an extreme emergency. Patients should contact Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta immediately or seek treatment at a hospital emergency room.

Treatment Options

Topical treatment options, light therapy and self-care are usually first prescribed by the dermatologist. According to the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) consensus report (2013), prescription medicines such as methotrexate, hyroxyurea, retinoids, or cyclosporine may be used to treat patients with severe forms of the disease. Injectable immunomodulators may be recommended for patients with resistant psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, a serious condition. The Mayo Clinic reports that immunomulator drugs prevent interactions between immune system cells involved in the autoimmune disease process.


This complex autoimmune disease requires physician management. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta may recommend multiple or overlapping treatment options.

Patients in the greater Decatur and Atlanta areas should contact Dr. Kathleen J. Smith today at 678-904-4932.

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