The U.S. Dermatology Partners team has been working hard to make sure our patients are staying safe and healthy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For many of our patients, the pandemic has had a limited impact on their treatment plans, and some lucky patients have had some extra time to improve their daily skincare routine. However, for those who suffer from psoriasis, the COVID-19 pandemic could have more of an impact on your treatment plan and skin health. Many of our patients with moderate to severe psoriasis rely on biologic medications to modulate their overactive immune systems which cause their psoriasis. Unfortunately, these medications may increase their risk of serious infections. As it relates to COVID-19, we are unsure whether patients are more susceptible to infection if they are on these types of medications that target the immune system. Currently, it is not recommended to discontinue treatment with biologic medications for psoriasis patients simply due to the pandemic. However, to ensure safety, psoriasis patients may want to reach out to their dermatologist to discuss their treatment plans and take necessary precautions if they are concerned. In this blog, we will discuss more details about what psoriasis patients should know about how COVID-19 may impact their treatment plans. You should contact your dermatologist to get personalized recommendations.
Why May Psoriasis Patients be at Higher Risk During COVID-19?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes excessive inflammation throughout the body, and, in doing so, impacts every part of a person’s body. Because psoriasis both affects the immune system and systemic treatments for psoriasis may suppress a person’s immune system, patients with this condition should be taking greater care at this time to avoid potential sources of infection. Additionally, psoriasis patients are at a slightly higher risk of unwanted consequences of COVID-19 since psoriasis is considered a chronic disease and because many psoriasis patients have other comorbid conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Patients with psoriasis, who have additional medical conditions, and who are currently on immune-suppressing medications are likely at the highest risk of unwanted consequences of COVID-19 infection if exposed. You should be aware of how all the elements of your current health concerns, diagnoses, and medications can impact your risk level during COVID-19. If you have concerns about your health, you should be coordinating with your doctors to ensure you’re taking appropriate prevention steps.
Psoriasis & Frequent Handwashing
Anyone who significantly increases their amount of daily handwashing will have issues with dryer skin that can lead to cracked skin and sores. For psoriasis patients, these small sores or cracks in the skin can lead to much bigger issues or even potential flare-ups of their psoriasis. We recommend making sure patients are moisturizing their skin regularly to make up for the increased handwashing to prevent dryness, cracking, and potential psoriasis flares.
Psoriasis Biologics & COVID-19
If you’re taking a biologic for psoriasis, current recommendations are that you can continue that treatment if you are feeling well and haven’t been exposed to COVID-19. If you have been exposed or have other concerns related to continuing your biologic during the pandemic, we recommend that you reach out to your dermatologist for specific management recommendations.
Managing Psoriasis During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Precautions should be taken by everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. For patients with psoriasis, especially those who are on biologic treatments or who have other chronic medical conditions, it will be even more important be practice safety during this time. Below, we’ve outlined some of the many ways that psoriasis patients can keep themselves safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Follow CDC, Local & National Safety Recommendations
Make sure you’re following all the recommendations for safety for high-risk individuals, including:
• Stay in touch with your healthcare providers and regularly seek guidance to ensure your treatment plan is working.
• You should avoid leaving home whenever possible.
• If you do need to go out, avoid direct contact with other people by maintaining safe social distancing.
• Wear a protective facemask and gloves if you need to go out.
• Many grocery stores, pharmacies, and other necessary retailers are offering limited hours that are specially designated for individuals at higher risk. Visiting the store at this time may be safer for you.
• Quarantine within your quarantine. If you live with family members or roommates, you may want to quarantine yourself further within your own home, especially if your cohabitants are essential workers who are at the greatest risk for exposure. Try to limit your interactions, stay in separate spaces, and if possible, use different bathrooms.
• Avoid touching your face as much as possible, especially if you have plaques on your hands.
Use Soap & Water Instead of Hand Sanitizer When Possible
It is important to wash hands when necessary, including before and after eating, after touching a shared surface (doorknobs, handrails, etc.), and if you come in contact with other people. However, avoid over-washing your hands. If you haven’t been anywhere or touched any potentially contaminated surfaces, there’s no need to wash or sanitize your hands. This excessive washing can strip moisture from your skin and lead to psoriasis flareups. Whenever possible, you should wash your hands with soap and water rather than hand sanitizer since the high alcohol content in hand sanitizers will more quickly dehydrate your skin.
Use Gentle, Fragrance-Free Cleansers
Since you’re likely to be washing your hands more often, sweet-smelling, heavily perfumed hand soaps may not be the best option. These soaps typically achieve their luxurious scent using chemicals that can more quickly dry out and irritate the skin, triggering the production of psoriasis plaques. A fragrance-free cleanser will be gentler on your skin for frequent washings.
After washing your hands, take care to completely rinse all soap residue away using cool or lukewarm water. If residue remains, it will keep breaking down oils and drying out the skin. Thoroughly rinse and completely dry your hands after washing.
If you notice your hands are drying out, apply a thick, cream moisturizer after washing hands. Make it easy for yourself to remember by keeping a moisturizing lotion by every sink in your home. Petrolatum (petroleum jelly) moisturizers offer the added benefit of creating a protective barrier over your skin, so these may be a good option to counteract the effects of frequent handwashing. For very dry skin, you may consider applying a thick layer of petrolatum moisturizer to the hands before you go to bed. Then, put on a pair of gloves to trap moisture in overnight.
Can I Schedule an Appointment for Psoriasis Flareups?
Dr. X says, “We are happy to discuss flareups and chronic skin conditions during an in-office appointment or using our teledermatology platform. Since psoriasis sufferers are in a higher risk group for contracting COVID-19, teledermatology visits can be especially beneficial for these patients.” Virtual teledermatology appointments with U.S. Dermatology Partners are just like video chatting with friends and family, but we use a more secure platform to ensure your personal information is protected. You’ll sit down face to face with one of our dermatologists to discuss your situation, and we’ll make treatment recommendations or call in prescriptions as needed to help you control your flareups and start feeling better as soon as possible.
U.S. Dermatology Partners is Here for You
If you’re using a biologic and haven’t discussed potential risk with your dermatologist yet or you’re struggling with a severe psoriasis flareup, it’s time to get in touch with U.S. Dermatology Partners. You can use our simple online form to request an in-office appointment or a teledermatology appointment. If you have questions about which type of appointment is right for you, please contact your local office by phone. One of our team members would be happy to answer your questions and guide you to the best appointment option for your circumstances.
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