Meet Your Psoriasis Dream Team
It’s about more than managing flares—these professionals can help you with everything from skincare to anxiety and depression.by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
We "heart" our dermatologists, but when it comes to getting 360-treatment for psoriasis, there are a few other medical and wellness superstars you'll want on your side. We've compiled a list of go-to helpers who can recommend skin products, maximize your treatment, and treat your psoriasis from the inside out. They'll be your very own dream team!
Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner
When you're having a flare that needs quick medical attention, it may take weeks to get face-to-face with your derm. In fact, a study published in JAMA Dermatology showed that the average wait for a dermatologist appointment was 56 days. On the other hand, the average wait to see a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP) was 19 days. Many derm practices may actually have PAs and NPs on staff, and they often serve as a primary provider.
Both PAs and NPs can diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, and prescribe medication. They'll consult--and refer--to a physician on complicated cases, but for routine care, you'll be in good hands.
Certified Personal Trainer
Although psoriasis shows up on your skin, it's actually a systemic inflammatory disease. That's why lowering your overall level of inflammation can help you heal from the inside out. One of the best ways to do that? Exercise. In fact, as little as 20 minutes of physical activity can make a difference, according to a study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. And you don't have to work out hard to benefit, either.
Same goes for losing weight, says Luigi Naldi, M.D., a professor of dermatology at the University of Milan in Italy. Even a limited weight loss can improve psoriasis symptoms in people who are overweight or obese.
If you need help getting started, connecting with a certified personal trainer will be hugely beneficial. Getting one-on-one attention in the gym may be especially helpful if it has been a while since you exercised or are experiencing any joint pain. A trainer can help you increase your activity level safely. Find one in your area through the American Council of Exercise.
Many of us think of a pharmacist as someone who counts pills and puts them in bottles. But a knowledgeable pharmacist can save you time and money and serve as a safety net to make sure you are getting the best care. Case in point: They're on the front lines protecting you from harmful drug interactions. Registered pharmacists are extremely well-educated—they have to earn a doctorate of pharmacy degree and pass a state licensure exam in order to practice.
Along with helping you compare costs of brand-name versus generic drugs, your pharmacist is also there to fill you in on potential side effects, says Patricia Draper, a registered pharmacist at Edwards Pharmacy in Centreville, MD. So when the cashier asks if you have any questions for the pharmicist, take advantage: "That information helps patients adhere to their treatment plans better," Draper says.
And if you need some advice on over-the-counter products to supplement your prescriptions, your local pharmacist can help you figure out which ingredients to look for or to avoid. (Check out these derm-approved shampoos, cleansers, and moisturizers, too.)
You may have psoriasis, but that doesn't mean you can't have beautiful skin. A medical esthetician can help you achieve it through safe-for-you treatments as well through personalized product recommendations.
"An esthetician can help you determine your skin type," says Betty Wilder, director of the Chesapeake School of Esthetics in Annapolis, MD. Just like many women don't know their correct bra size, most people don't know their skin type either, she says. "And if you get that wrong, then you could be using the wrong products on your skin."
While the training requirements vary from state to state, estheticians usually attend an esthetics school or school of cosmetology and then must pass a state exam. Estheticians who have met advanced training requirements can attain a national esthetician certification. The best place to start to find one? Your dermatologist.
Mental Health Provider
Those of us living with psoriasis have an increased risk of being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Not only is there a stigma that goes along with having skin that looks different, but the inflammation behind your condition may also impact brain function, increasing your susceptibility to mood disorders, according to a study published in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice.
Your dermatologist can be an amazing resource if you are feeling anxious or depressed. However, you may also benefit from being able to talk to a therapist about how your condition makes you feel. You'll not only be able to just get it all out (always a relief), your therapist can also help you learn how to change negative thought patterns. And if appropriate, she can work with your derm to recommend anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, even if just for the short-term to get you back on track.
Also an option? Seeing a psychodermatologist—someone who specializes in the psychological aspect of a skin disorder. Bottom line: Take your mental health as seriously as your physical health!
Don't forget that you are also a valuable member of your healthcare dream team. Nobody knows your body as well as you do. Staying up-to-date on the latest available treatments, taking good notes between visits, and making sure your team is working together will help you get the best overall care for your psoriasis. It may literally take a village to successfully manager your psoriasis, but that can be a really great thing. You never have to go it alone.