Psoriasis is an autoimmune-mediated disease that affects the skin. It is typically a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms, including topical activated vitamin D. Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakes a normal skin cell for a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that cause overproduction of new skin cells.
The most common form of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, is commonly seen as red and white scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the skin, the epidermis. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area, including the scalp, palms of hands and soles of feet, and genitals. The disorder is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected. Psoriasis can cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis.
One of the treatments for psoriasis is ultraviolet radiation. It used to be that the only place psoriasis patients could get UV radiation was a dermatologist’s office, and it often cost several hundred dollars per treatment. When suntan parlors began to appear, psoriasis patients realized they could utilize commercial sunbeds and get some relief of their symptoms. Some people think that this commercial conflict — between dermatologists and suntan parlors — is the reason dermatologists have so forcefully condemned sun tan parlors.
Dermatologists have discovered that adding drugs, either topical or systemic, improves the efficacy of UV radiation. Recently, researchers at Harvard discovered that topical application of an activated vitamin D drug, calcipotriol, increased the effectiveness of UV radiation.
Maytin EV, Honari G, Khachemoune A, Taylor CR, Ortel B, Pogue BW, Sznycer-Taub N, Hasan T. Vitamin D Combined with Aminolevulinate (ALA)-Mediated Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Human Psoriasis: A Proof-of-Principle Study. Isr J Chem. 2012 Sep;52(8-9):767-775.
We still don’t know if physiological (5,000 to 10,000 IU/day) or pharmacological (50,000 IU/day) oral doses of vitamin D will help with psoriasis. Like all autoimmune disorders, basic science evidence suggests that such doses would help. However, if I had psoriasis, I would also find a good dermatologist, as they have many additional drugs and procedures that can help psoriasis.