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Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis, as their immune systems mistakenly target healthy cells in an autoimmune response. A February 25, 2011 article on Mayoclinic.com explained the goals of psoriasis treatment.
Inflammation and formation of plaque needs to be reduced by breaking the cycle of excessive skin cell production. Scales need to be removed and skin needs to be made smooth.
Topical treatments (creams and ointments applied to the skin) can benefit mild to moderate cases of psoriasis. One form of topical treatment is the application of vitamin D analogues, or synthetic forms of vitamin D. This can slow the growth of skin cells.
In more extreme cases of psoriasis, topical treatments may be combined with another treatment such as light therapy, also known as phototherapy. The affected skin is exposed to controlled amounts of natural or artificial ultraviolet light.
Natural sunlight in small amounts may bring improvement. Care must be taken not to overdo it, because the psoriasis may worsen and other skin damage can occur.
UVB phototherapy, which is also called broadband UVB, may benefit mild to moderate psoriasis. It can treat patches or widespread psoriasis. It may be effective where some topical treatments fail.
A newer narrowband UVB therapy may be more effective yet. Treatment is administered two to three times a week. Upon improvement, sessions drop to once a week. This treatment must be done with care to prevent significant burning of the skin.
A May 12, 2011 article on Medicine.net reported on research from the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, Germany. Treatments like ultraviolet light therapy and vitamin D creams may help bind the peptide cathelicidin to DNA. This may reduce the inflammatory response that otherwise may trigger psoriasis symptoms.
Henry Lim, MD, is chief of dermatology at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital. Lim said that UBV light therapy can benefit about 70 percent of psoriasis patients. He said that vitamin D creams can benefit 50 to 60 percent of patients with mild symptoms.