What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that occurs when your skin cells replicate more quickly than they normally should. This causes a buildup of skin cells that ultimately creates plaque and inflammation that are characteristic of psoriasis. The inflammation causes redness, itchiness, and sometimes pain and can affect any part of the body, from the scalp to the feet (it can even cause noticeable changes to the outward appearance of the finger- or toenails). In addition to being cosmetically undesirable, psoriasis can also be a painful and uncomfortable condition that negatively impacts your quality of life. There are several ways that this condition can be treated, but the right course of action depends on the specific nature of your condition. To learn more about how we can help you find relief, take a look at our locations page and reach out to the Certified Dermatology center that’s most convenient for you.

smiling older couple hugging each other in a field

What’s Causing My Psoriasis?

No one knows for sure what causes psoriasis, but it is believed to have a genetic connection in most cases. 

Some possible triggers for psoriasis that may cause flare-ups often include: 

  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes
  • Bruises
  • Infections
  • Certain medications
  • Diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Cold weather

Psoriatic Arthritis

Patients with psoriasis can also experience joint impairment, which is referred to as psoriatic arthritis. This condition can cause arthritis symptoms, including painful, stiff joints that are usually worse in the morning but get better throughout the day. Any joint can be affected, but this condition is most often seen in the hands and feet. Swelling in the fingers and toes can also limit your daily activities. 

If you suffer from psoriatic arthritis symptoms, we recommend reaching out to Certified Dermatology and seeking treatment immediately. Delaying treatment can cause long-term permanent joint damage. Early treatment is key in reducing the pain and inflammation of psoriatic arthritis and preventing long-term joint damage, and our team is experienced with psoriasis treatment.

Banner media

Treating Your Psoriasis

Treatment of psoriasis often requires the use of prescribed topical medications and oral antihistamines to help manage the itching. Topical steroid medications are also a great first line in quickly managing flare-ups but are not something that should be used in the long term. Some steroid-free topical medicines are sometimes good choices for certain patients. These products are creams and ointments that are Vitamin D based and can offer some benefits for long-term management.

Light Therapy

Traditional therapies include light therapy, which uses ultraviolet light to treat and manage psoriasis symptoms. This treatment method is highly effective, completely noninvasive, and doesn’t involve any kind of downtime or recovery period once it’s complete. If light therapy is right for you, we’ll work with you to set up a treatment schedule that sees you coming in at least three times per week, if not more, to see results.

Oral Medications


Light therapy can also be combined with an oral medication called Oxsoralen, which produces better results than standard light therapy alone. This medication does have limitations, however, and restrictions that can make light therapy somewhat more challenging, so we’ll be sure to discuss this with you when you visit us for your consultation, in addition to helping you explore various other options.

One major side effect and concern for any patient undergoing light therapy treatment is the cumulative exposure to UV rays and the increased risk of skin cancer as the patient ages. It can also affect the eyes, so special glasses must be worn to keep the UV rays from damaging your eyes and causing cataracts.

Banner media


An older but proven oral medication is Acitretin (Soriatane). For a long time, this medication changed the way psoriasis was treated. There are some unique side effects to this drug, but when managed properly, it can be a very effective tool in the fight against psoriasis.


Otezla is a relatively new oral medication that targets the pathway involved in the over-replication of your skin. This medication is impressively effective, but comes with a set of side effects of which patients should be made aware. This medication can cause diarrhea for many patients when they first begin taking it. While this issue usually goes away after taking Otezla for a while, it can sometimes take a few months to do so. 

Otezla can also worsen depression, so we recommend that patients avoid taking it if they are suffering from active depression.

Injectable Biologics

In the last ten to twenty years, some newer and more effective treatments have been developed, offering us a new set of exciting ways to approach treating patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Many of these medications are in a class of drugs called “biologics.” Biologics are injectable medications that target the pathway which causes the increased skin replication that ultimately causes the symptoms of psoriasis.

There are many prescribed medications in this category, and newer ones are being approved all the time. Not only do these medications work well for the skin, but they also can have a profound impact on the joints for the arthritis component. This protects your joints from further inflammation and breakdown, limiting the damage that can be caused. They have also been shown to improve the appearance of the nails when affected by psoriasis changes. 

Banner media

Risks and Potential Complications

Although these medications work very well, they do not come without certain side effects. Biologics can increase your risk of developing certain infections or re-activate some older infections. They should not be taken if you have a history of a certain type of heart disease or a history of Multiple Sclerosis or similar neurological disease. They can also increase your risk of developing a certain form of cancer.

Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (732) 353-1727.