Managing Plaque Psoriasis in Seniors: A Comprehensive Guide

Plaque psoriasis is a common skin condition among seniors. This article explores effective treatments, management strategies, and cheap options for older adults dealing with plaque psoriasis.

Understanding Plaque Psoriasis in Seniors

Plaque psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing rapid skin cell turnover. Seniors with plaque psoriasis may experience severe itching, discomfort, and emotional distress.

Prevalence and Impact

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, around 8 million Americans have psoriasis, and a significant portion of them are seniors. The prevalence of plaque psoriasis tends to increase with age due to the cumulative effects of skin damage and immune system changes.


The primary symptoms of plaque psoriasis include:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, burning, or soreness
  • Thickened or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints (psoriatic arthritis)

Diagnosis is typically made through a physical examination and, in some cases, a skin biopsy. It’s essential for seniors to consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Common Triggers for Seniors

Several factors can trigger or worsen plaque psoriasis in seniors:

  • Stress: Emotional and physical stress can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Infections: Bacterial and viral infections, such as strep throat, can trigger flare-ups.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including beta-blockers and lithium, can worsen psoriasis.
  • Weather: Cold, dry weather can lead to increased skin dryness and irritation.
  • Skin Injuries: Cuts, scrapes, and sunburns can trigger the Koebner phenomenon, where new plaques form on injured skin.

Treatment Options

Effective management of plaque psoriasis in seniors often involves a combination of treatments. Here are some commonly used options:

  1. Topical Treatments
    • Corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory creams or ointments reduce redness and swelling. Examples include hydrocortisone (cheap option: around $10) and triamcinolone.
    • Vitamin D Analogues: Calcipotriene (Dovonex) helps to slow skin cell growth. Costs around $50 for a tube.
    • Retinoids: Tazarotene (Tazorac) reduces inflammation and prevents scaling. Typically priced at around $200.
  2. Phototherapy
    • UVB Light Therapy: Exposing the skin to ultraviolet B light can reduce symptoms. Treatment sessions usually cost around $50 per session.
  3. Systemic Treatments
    • Methotrexate: An oral medication that slows skin cell growth. Costs around $30 for a monthly supply.
    • Cyclosporine: Suppresses the immune system to reduce inflammation. Prices range from $200 to $300 per month.
    • Biologics: These are newer drugs that target specific parts of the immune system. Examples include adalimumab (Humira) and etanercept (Enbrel). These can be expensive, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 per year, but assistance programs are often available.
  4. Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes
    • Moisturizers: Keeping the skin hydrated can reduce dryness and scaling. Affordable options like petroleum jelly or Eucerin cost around $5 to $10.
    • Diet and Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, can reduce inflammation. A month’s supply costs around $20.
    • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help manage stress and reduce flare-ups.

Cheap Treatment Options

For seniors on a budget, several cost-effective treatments are available:

  • Generic Medications: Opting for generic versions of corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, and retinoids can save money.
  • Over-the-Counter Options: Many effective moisturizers and hydrocortisone creams are available over the counter at lower prices.
  • Assistance Programs: Pharmaceutical companies often offer assistance programs for expensive biologics, reducing out-of-pocket costs significantly.

Managing Comorbidities

Seniors with plaque psoriasis often have other health conditions that require attention. Common comorbidities include:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Increased risk due to chronic inflammation.
  • Diabetes: Higher prevalence among psoriasis patients.
  • Depression and Anxiety: The emotional impact of living with a chronic skin condition.


Managing plaque psoriasis in seniors involves a multifaceted approach that includes topical treatments, phototherapy, systemic medications, and lifestyle changes. Affordable treatment options are available, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan. By understanding the triggers, symptoms, and treatment options, seniors can effectively manage plaque psoriasis and improve their quality of life.