LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - A local doctor's research in psoriasis spans decades.
Dr. Steven Shapiro is a Hattiesburg Clinic dermatologist at the location in Laurel.
"I was trained at Stanford in the 1970s. The chairman of the department of dermatology was considered the father of psoriasis treatment in America," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said he was involved with leading research for this skin condition, but saw this disease devastated many people.
"It affects the joints, and it is associated with cardiovascular disease and with diabetes and with arthritis," Shapiro said.
The effects one can see are on the skin and are due to a rapid turn over of skin cells, meaning too many skin cells over too little period of time.
"The average person turns over their skin every 28 days, where as a psoriasis patient turns it over every three to four," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said this causes irritation, inflammation and pain, which affects nine million people in the U.S.
"So, it's a multi-factorial disease, but it affects the immune system," Shapiro said.
And because it is an immune disease, he said it took many years for experts to find therapies, until now.
"We are doing systemic therapy with biologic medications," Shapiro said.
Shapiro added one may have heard of them or at least seen the commercials.
"Taltz is one, Cosentyx is another, Stelara is another, Humira is another, Otezla, and Enbrel," Shapiro said.
He said he is very excited to use these medicines because he is witnessing them work.
"We have many patients whose skin is totally clear," Shapiro said. "You would not even be aware that they have psoriasis."
Shapiro said his patients have clearing skin, better joints, control of their diabetes and confidence.
"It's a disease that has a lot of psychological components to it, and once we get patients well or better they tend to be happier, they tend to be more outgoing," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said these treatments are available with or without insurance.