Psoriasis expert and researcher Steve Feldman, M.D., says there are many new treatment options giving hope to the millions of people who suffer from the chronic skin condition.
According to The National Psoriasis Foundation website, psoriasis is the most common immune disease in the United States, affecting as many as many as 7.5 million Americans. With National Psoriasis Awareness Month being recognized in August, Feldman, a professor of dermatology, pathology and public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, offers some insight.
"Some of the biggest advances in medicine have been in the area of psoriasis treatment because we have a growing understanding of how the immune system works and we've been able to come up with treatments that are safer and more effective than what we had in the past," Feldman says.
The treatments depend on the severity and dermatologists have more options available for patients including phototherapy, traditional systemic treatments or even new biologic and topical treatments. Feldman says he likes to find the safest and most effective treatment that works for a patient and stick with it for the best results.
Wake Forest Baptist is a leading clinical research center for psoriasis with a multitude of trials - for adults and children - investigating topical therapies and new internal medicines for the varying degrees and types of the condition. There are new medicines in pill and shot form being studied that target one particular cell in the immune system versus suppressing the entire immune system more broadly. They are thought to be safer while also being effective.
As the director of the Psoriasis Treatment Center at Wake Forest Baptist for the past 20 years and a former member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Advisory Board, Feldman has been on the forefront of finding the best treatments.
"Psoriasis is a chronic and often unpredictable condition in which the immune system is causing inflammation and that inflammation can be in the skin, in the joints, or in a combination of the two," Feldman says. "For some patients, it seems to come in a series of cycles of flares and remissions, and it can vary in severity from relatively mild to a very extensive disease."
Psoriasis affects men and women equally and can occur at any age, though it's common to see it emerge in someone's late teens or early 20s. Patients' top concerns revolve around how the psoriasis makes their skin look, how other people react to it, and the itchiness and soreness it causes. Feldman says that about 1 in every 5 patients with psoriasis also develop the inflammation in their joints, which can be severe and debilitating.
"I think it's important for patients with psoriasis to know they have options and we can help them reduce and manage their symptoms," Feldman says.
For more information about clinical trials and research, contact the clinical studies office at 336-716-3775 or visit www.wakehealth.edu/BeInvolved.