Nationally recognized dermatologist Charles E. Crutchfield III MD explains the causes of psoriasis, a common skin disorder, and ways to effectively treat it.
Psoriasis is both a common and age-old problem. It presents as red, scaling plaques on the skin that often itch and bleed. Commonly, psoriasis occurs on the elbows and knees, but it can be found anywhere on the body, including the face and scalp. For centuries, it has affected people in all walks of life and all nationalities. It can be progressive and may appear at any time during one’s life. It is one of the most common skin diseases, striking an estimated five percent of the world’s population. Of those affected, approximately 25% percent can develop an associated psoriatic arthritis, which is both progressive and degenerative. Psoriatic arthritis can be debilitating.
Psoriasis Before & After Photos
Is Psoriasis Contagious?
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it can interfere with normal life and social relationships, and cause many sufferers to isolate themselves from friends and family. Heredity plays a part in the disease, with approximately 10 percent of all sufferers being able to identify a genetic relative with the disease. Stress, injury, infection, medication, or trauma can trigger an initial episode or cause a flare-up of psoriasis.
Types of Psoriasis
There are many varieties of psoriasis, including guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, and inverse psoriasis. Inverse psoriasis occurs in the armpit, under the breasts, and in the skin folds around the groin, buttocks, and genitals. Scalp psoriasis is often mistaken for dandruff. Guttate psoriasis can affect anyone but often starts after a sore throat associated with streptococcal infection. Pustular psoriasis is a painful condition that is limited almost exclusively to the palms and soles. Pustular psoriasis can be quite debilitating, and can even prevent walking and the ability to work with the hands. Psoriasis can also affect the nails, imitating a fungal infection; cause pits in the nails; or produce brown spots under the nails, known as ‘oil spots.'
What Causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a genetic disease involving both an autoimmune and inflammatory components. The standard skin growth cycle requires approximately 28 days for skin cells to go from the basal layer to the top. In psoriasis, this growth rate is dramatically increased and occurs every three to five days. As a result, the skin cannot shed normally and instead piles up, forming thick scaling plaques. In the past, it was believed that psoriasis was a disorder of the skin cells, where the cells were unable to grow at a healthy rate. However, it is now understood there are many contributing factors, such as the immune system. Often, immune cells can leave the blood stream and produce compounds that interact with cells in the skin to produce this rapid growth phase. Biologic treatments are targeted at the immune cells to interfere with their ability to produce the rapid growth and inflammatory phase associated with arthritis.
How Is Psoriasis Diagnosed?
Dermatologists diagnose psoriasis by examining the skin, nails, and scalp. If the diagnosis is in doubt, a skin biopsy may be helpful. My philosophy is to use a combination approach, utilizing many different compounds in the treatment of psoriasis to achieve a synergistic effect. Treatments include, but are not limited to, topical tar treatments, topical Vitamin A treatments, topical Vitamin D treatments, and our patented and very effective CutiCort steroid spray. In addition to topical medicines, I also prescribe phototherapeutic measures, including narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy and targeted laser treatments. Phototherapeutic treatments can be performed by using a full-body and hand-and-foot light box to treat resistant hand and foot psoriasis. Additionally, oral/systemic medications including methotrexate, cyclosporine, oral retinoids and the latest generation of medicines that combat psoriasis known as "biologic agents" with very good results.
Future Of Psoriasis
More and more research is being done every day, giving us better insight into psoriasis. This research will allow the disorder to be treated even more efficiently. We know that psoriasis is a genetic disease. Psoriasis is much more than a cosmetic concern. Physicians now recognize that having psoriasis is associated with an increased the risk of the development of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, obesity, intestinal diseases, kidney disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and gum disease. However, with the correct diagnosis and treatment program, psoriasis can be very successfully managed as well as the many complications of psoriasis. If you have psoriasis, you don't have to suffer. Talk to your dermatologist about the many new and effective treatments.
More About Dr. Crutchfiled
Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D. is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Medical School. Dr. Crutchfield is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Crutchfield conducts active psoriasis research (he has a Master's Degree in Molecular Biology) and has recently received a United States Patent on one of his psoriasis treatment medications. Dr. Crutchfield lectures locally and nationally on the treatment of psoriasis. When other medical students, dermatology residents and physicians learn about psoriasis, they are often learning it from Dr. Crutchfield. Dr. Crutchfield also treats many physicians and nurses with psoriasis. When other Twin Cities' healthcare providers need psoriasis treatment, they often choose Dr. Crutchfield. We are happy to share that Dr. Crutchfield is recognized by Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine as on of the Twin Cities' "Top Doctors".
Dear Dr. Crutchfield and Staff,
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the help you have given me in controlling my Psoriasis! My condition has been under control for the first time in my life since I came to Minnesota to see you, and to get your advice and help.
My Psoriasis had started 40 years before, and I had exhausted the roll of Dermatologists out here in California, while hearing the same old story from each of them time and again. Every doctor here told me it was “incurable” and then proceeded to give me the same tired old advice and treatments I had tried before and with no success. I finally settled for a lifetime of wearing long sleeves and long pants during the summer months in my attempts to cover my condition, unless I was with friends or family who accepted my appearance without question. It was always embarrassing however to be asked by strangers who spotted a patch of Psoriasis whether I had fallen down and hurt myself, so I usually lied to them and said yes.
My wife’s cousin had moved to Eagan from Hawaii years before, and part of his decision to do so was due to his own case of Psoriasis. In Hawaii one is almost forced to wear shorts and T-shirts and he too was tired of embarrassing questions. Eventually he was referred to your office for treatment, and the results were so incredible that he called me here in California and offered to fly me out to see you! My wife and I waited until we had free time and had made the decision to make the 4,000 mile round trip to Eagan in our car!
Thank God for that decision, and that long drive, because I had the privilege of spending time in your office and of benefiting from your effective advice and treatment. I was favorable impressed by the friendly and professional way I was treated the moment I walked through the door of your building, and two years later I am happy to report that my condition is still under control, and that I proudly wear my beloved short sleeved shirts and shorts here in the California sunshine! You listened to my questions with patience and caring and you gave answers were new and refreshing and that finally caused me to be optimistic about my condition. For the first time I walked away from an appointment with a Dermatologist with hope and a smile on my face, because after 40 years of searching I had finally found a doctor who didn’t listen to those who had given up long ago, and who went further than anyone else in his search for a cure for this terrible disease!
There is still no cure, but by following your advice and faithfully applying my medications I am 95% symptom free, and my life has been much happier because of it. I have given personal testimonies to others I spot with Psoriasis, and have referred them to your office for treatment, regardless of where they may live. I hope they took my advice to heart and found you.
This is the only way I know of thanking you. You have truly done your part to create a happier and better world. Thank you so very much and please keep up your search for a final cure. If anyone can find it----it is you!
Psoriasis Treatment Articles
Patient TestimonialsI’ve had psoriasis so long I thought I’d never have normal skin. Now, after following your treatment plan for 6 weeks it is clear. This is amazing. Thank you so much Dr. Crutchfield.
Apple Valley, MN
My psoriasis and hand eczema is now clear. No one over many many years had been able to help me. I had really given up but when my co-worker recommended you, I thought I’d give it one final try and I am so glad that I did. My skin is awesome.
I've had psoriasis for at least five years and it's been just terrible, especially on my knees and both elbows. I'm a physician so I wear scrubs all the time, and I've been embarrassed to show my arms. People notice it all the time, so it's been a real distraction. I started treatment about six weeks ago, and this is the best I've ever been since the psoriasis came on. It's completely turned around, and people have noticed. I'm really happy with the way my psoriasis has responded to this treatment.
I am going to have to eat my words! Dr. Crutchfield told me he would have my psoriasis skin clear in a month and, after having psoriasis for 15 years, I highly doubted it. Well, guess what- I'm completely clear! You have made me feel so good about myself. I wore shorts all around this summer for the first time in many years. I'm now your biggest fan. Thanks Dr. Crutchfield.
My psoriasis is clear after 7 years. This is great, simply great!
Eden Prarie, Minnesota
Wow. My psoriasis is the best it has been in 35 years. I haven't seen my elbows since I was 12 years old and now I'm 52. This whole experience has been wonderful.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Dear Dr. Crutchfield and Staff,
My psoriasis had been so terrible the past 7 years, especially on my face and hairline, I was dreading having to pose for photographs at my daughter's wedding. I am so very very happy. You put me on a program that cleared my psoriasis, and you should see how big I am smiling in all the wedding photographs! My God bless you, Dr. Crutchfield.
St. Paul, Minnesota
I have had hand psoriasis for over 20 years. I have seen so many doctors that I have lost count. After seeing Dr. Crutchfield, in only 1 week, my hands are clear for the first time in 20 years. I think he is the world’s best dermatologist and I salute him.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Dr Crutchfield- I am a psoriasis patient of yours. I had an office visit a few weeks ago and you suggested I try CeraVe cream along after the cuticort spray and taclonex applications 2x along with claritan 2x. Also doing light treatments tuesday evening and saturday mornings. I report that my condition is the clearest in years--picture worthy (too bad no "before" photos.)
Again, thank you!
James R. Walson
I’ve struggled with psoriasis for over 5 years and after 2 weeks of the treatments you recommended, I am clear! I can’t believe it and I am so happy I came to Crutchfield Dermatology.
St. Paul, Minnesota
You told me at my initial consultation that when I came back to see you the psoriasis would be gone. You are absolute correct and have my eternal gratitude.
West St. Paul, Minnesota
Dr. Crutchfield is a member or graduate of these prestigious organizations.
Demonstrating his education, experience, and commitment to providing patients with the highest quality medical & cosmetic dermatologic care.
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