That Frustrating Flare-up Remission Cycle
Psoriasis can be a difficult and challenging condition to live with on a daily basis. While stress can cause it to worsen, it so often seems stress is unavoidable. Reading lists of treatments, trying to find a healthcare provider, adjusting your diet, and dealing with daily self-confidence obstacles that accompany psoriasis can cause your head to spin! So what happens after you find your perfect healthcare team, start your treatment plan, and begin to adjust your lifestyle to put your best foot forward? Well, the results may vary.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that currently has no cure. This can be extremely frustrating for those living with any severity level of psoriasis. After jumping past the first hurdles; researching the condition, and starting treatments, quality of life can still take a huge hit. Oftentimes, living with psoriasis can lead to self-esteem issues, along with added stress and anxiety. These feelings can often lead to emotional ambivalence or even depression.
Most people will cycle through periods of flare-ups and remission. Flare-ups are periods of time when symptoms get worse. Remissions are periods of time when the symptoms get better or even go away completely for a time. People who have psoriasis can learn to identify and avoid their own psoriasis triggers, which are things in the environment that can cause psoriasis symptoms to flare up.
Those pesky plaques...
Treatments vary from person to person. What worked for a friend with psoriasis, may cause a worsening of symptoms for you, or may do nothing at all. Treatment success rates are not created equal. What we usually want to know is just how much skin surface area will still have plaque symptoms. Some topical medications only show a 2% success rate, while other more intense therapies, such as phototherapy, can have response rates of up to 85%1. Finding a treatment plan that works for you, and determining what level of clearance is realistic for your skin can help set you on the right path. This will also help you set expectations with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan moving forward.
Regardless of your treatment plan, with psoriasis, there can sometimes be periods of complete to near complete remission. While these periods can be due to a successful treatment plan, they can also be the result of spontaneous clearing without any sort of medical intervention. In the latter case, the body may for a period of time stop attacking its own skin cells, and instead allow the body to heal long enough to clear many plaques that have formed. Although it is hard to predict how often this type of clearing occurs, it is possible.
Regardless of if it is spontaneous or not, most people will go through cycles of flares and remission with psoriasis. It is unclear how often remissions are triggered, and what specifically may cause them in each individual, but it is possible to enjoy a respite from symptoms. On the other hand, it is possible to see symptoms spontaneously worsen with no apparent cause as well2. Newer treatments, such as biologic therapeutics, may offer more long-term control over these cycles. You may also find that using a couple therapeutic options is combination will help manage your psoriasis symptoms and minimize the number or extent of flare-ups that you encounter. Combination therapy can also be used when symptoms improve, but plaques remain in stubborn areas (like your scalp), or if you are trying to manage other health conditions at the same time as your psoriasis.
You're not alone
Overall, psoriasis can be extremely unpredictable, and although the prognosis may seem bleak at times, it is important to know that you are not alone. Communities like this one can be a huge help with helping you figure out what works best for you, and the types of resources you need. Regardless of how severe your psoriasis is, what treatment plan you are on, or if you are in remission or not, it is always okay to ask for help when you need it. That’s what communities like ours, as well as your healthcare provider, are here for!
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