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skin

Coping with Psoriasis
"You have given me back my voice," said Cindy, my patient with terrible psoriasis. She wiped back a tear, gave me a hug, and then explained.

Cindy has had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for years. She has been on more medicines, salves and potions than an average pharmacy would have stocked in a year. Unfortunately, her disease ignored the best remedies I had prescribed and she was just getting worse. Silvery scales cluttered the thickened skin on her elbows, knees, and scalp. Her poor "private" areas were red and raw. She was losing the use of her fingers due to her advancing arthritis. We both felt that her disease was slowly killing her by limiting her life, both at work and in her relationship with her kind and loving husband.

Thanks to the hard work of the great men and women at the major pharmaceutical companies, we now have powerful new tools to fight this crippling disease.

Cindy was at first reluctant to use one of the new "biologic" medications due to the expense, and the need for small, home injections. However, since we both thought she was losing her battle, we worked on an action plan. Cindy took a second job to pay for her medication. We taught her how to easily do the home injection treatments to avoid extra office visits for "shots."

She returned after only a month on therapy and reported seeing miraculous improvement in her arthritis. She had much less pain, morning stiffness and fatigue. Her psoriatic skin plaques were starting to melt away. However, the best part for her was the re-use of her hands.

Cindy explained that she works as a clinical psychologist to help deaf children deal with the problems of their own illnesses. She communicates with her youngsters through sign language. After treatment, she could move her fingers without the previous pain, and once again "talk" to her small patients. Cindy's fingers were not just talking, they were singing! Cindy asked me to share her story with all of my other patients with psoriasis. She knew that there were lots of other people like her who were tired, discouraged, hurting and feeling embarrassed about their skin disease. She wanted to let them know that there really is new hope.

"Biologics" are a group of remarkable medications for psoriasis and other disorders where the body seems to fight itself. These medications work within the patient's own system to calm down the over active chemicals that contribute to the skin rash of psoriasis and the joint destruction of arthritis. Products now available in the US include Amevive, Enbrel, Humira, Raptiva, and Remicade.

As a professor of mine once said, "No medicine is smart enough to do just one thing." His idea is still valid. All of these new medications will have some potential side effects. However, if you, a friend, or a relative are battling psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and feel that you, too, are losing, please take Cindy's advice. Call your dermatologist and find out if one of these new miracle medications is right for you.

Your dermatologist will want to examine your skin, looking for changes of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It is important that you share with your doctor the impact your disease is having on your life. Your doctor may order some tests to make certain that you are free from infection and healthy enough to start the new medications. Most likely, you will continue your current medications until the new treatments start working.


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"Coping with Psoriasis "
   authored by:
DERMATOLOGY
Dr. Rebecca L. Bushong is both a pharmacist and a board-certified dermatologist. After receiving her BS. in Pharmacy and her Pharm D degree, she returned at age 30 to the Medical School of the University of Kentucky. Following medical school she comp...



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