What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, genetic, inflammatory skin condition characterised by patches of thick, silvery scales that flake off. The condition is uncomfortable, itchy and often unsightly.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected in small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some people, it is just a minor irritation, for others it has a major impact on their quality of life.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.
Who Gets Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can appear for the first time at any age however it most commonly appears between the ages of 10 and 40 years, and often during puberty. It affects both males and females equally and runs in families.
Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK. Although the exact cause is unknown, it has been established that it does not result from poor hygiene as frequently believed and it is not contagious.
What are the symptoms of Psoriasis?
Although psoriasis may be almost unnoticeable in its early stages it develops a very distinctive appearance as it progresses. Typically it starts with small red bumps on the skin and then progresses to bigger scaly patches that become itchy and uncomfortable.
As the condition develops the scaly patches develop into deep red plaques with crusty silvery scales on the skin surface. If the scales are removed raw skin will be revealed which may bleed.
The most common areas affected are the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back, although any skin surface may be involved. It can also occur in the nails and body folds.
Treatments are determined by the type and severity of your psoriasis and the area of skin affected. Your doctor will probably start with a mild treatment, such as topical creams (which are applied to the skin), and then move on to stronger treatments if necessary.
A wide range of treatments are available for psoriasis, but identifying which treatment is most effective can be difficult..
Speak to your GP or healthcare team if you have psoriasis and you have any concerns about your physical and mental wellbeing. They can offer advice and further treatment if necessary.