Psoriasis can be a tough diagnosis and a tough disease to treat. But there is one treatment, pioneered in the 1920s by Dr. Goeckerman, that gives hope to patients suffering with sever psoriasis when other treatments have failed to help.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes itchy, painful, flaky, red areas of skin, called “plaques,” that can occur nearly anywhere on the body. It can also cause fingernails and toenails to discolor and occasionally crumble or detach from the nail bed. Plaques can crack and bleed and will sometimes grow to cover large areas of the body.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an auto-immune problem. It can be genetic, but not everyone with the genes for psoriasis will suffer from outbreaks. When an outbreak occurs, it is because your immune system has sent a signal to your skin that tells the skin to produce more skin cells. Your skin goes into overdrive and produces way more skin cells than your body can handle. As the new cells move to the top layer of your skin, there are so many that instead of sloughing off over time as old cells die, they pile up, causing thick, flaky patches that are often red and itchy.
What treatments are available for psoriasis?
Psoriasis in incurable, but treatable. Treatments may include topical ointments or prescription medicines. But one of the earliest and still most effective treatments for psoriasis was developed in the 1920s by a man named Dr. Goeckerman.
The original procedure involved spreading the affected areas with tar and then exposing the area to ultraviolet radiation. Modern versions of this treatment aren’t quite as messy. Doctors today use a topical cream or ointment made from coal tar instead of raw tar. However, one drawback of the treatment is that it usually requires daily treatments for three to four weeks to clear up severe outbreaks.
That being said, if you suffer from severe plaque psoriasis and more standard treatments haven’t helped, the dermatologists at Dermatologic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery can answer your questions about the Goeckerman regimen.