Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition where the life cycle of skin cells is accelerated, causing them to rapidly accumulate on the surface layer. It most commonly manifests as red, scaly patches or small spots, and can cause skin to crack, itch, and burn. There are many different types of psoriasis, but not all of them can affect the feet.
Palmoplantar psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that specifically affects the hands and feet. It usually occurs in conjunction with plaque psoriasis, the most common form, although it can manifest alone as well. Symptoms of palmoplantar psoriasis include red patches, scales, sensitivity, cracks in the skin, pustules, and clearly distinguishable areas of raised, thick skin.
Pustular psoriasis does not necessarily affect the feet, but does tend to occur in one specific area of the body at a time, which could possibly be the feet. As the name suggests, the primary symptom of pustular psoriasis is the presence of pus-filled blisters, which can induce flu-like symptoms such as fever, appetite-loss, or increased heart rate.
Although it is not a distinct form of psoriasis in its own right, some people experience what is known as nail psoriasis, which can affect either the fingernails or the toenails. Nail psoriasis almost always accompanies another form of psoriasis, but can be easily confused for a fungal nail infection. Symptoms include discoloration, grooves in the nail, thickening of the surrounding skin, and the breakdown or total loss of the nail in question. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with any form of psoriasis, it is important not to assume these are signs of a fungal infection, even if you are not flaring up elsewhere on your body.
Regardless of which form it is, having psoriasis on your feet obviously affects your levels of comfort, and severely limits your ability to carry out daily activities. There is no cure for any form of psoriasis, but there are a number of remedies to treat the symptoms, alleviating your discomfort and helping you to resume your normal daily routine.
One of the most common treatments is the use of prescription topical creams, such as corticosteroids, retinoids, or synthetic Vitamin D. However, many of these can cause skin irritation as a side-effect, and often become less effective the more frequently they are used. For these reasons, it is best to use them sparingly in coordination with other forms of treatment. If the creams cause too much irritation, or do not have the desired effect, the same ingredients can be taken in pill form, or as an injection.
Phototherapy is the use of both natural and artificial UV rays to treat the affected areas. Broadband UVB phototherapy can be used to treat large areas that may be resistant to other forms of treatment. Narrowband UVB phototherapy is a newer, stronger form of the same therapy, but requires more sessions, and could cause more burning to the healthy skin. Another treatment known as PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) involves taking psoralen before treatment, which makes your skin more susceptible to the UV rays. This can be very effective in aggressively treating more resilient areas, but can cause symptoms such as headaches and nausea, as well as increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
While there is no cure or one-size-fits-all remedy for the symptoms of psoriasis, there is an abundance of treatment options available. Everyone will respond to the various treatments differently, so the best thing to do is to discuss all of the options with your doctor, and figure which treatment or combination of treatments works best for you.