Psoriasis is a skin condition that tends to flare up from time to time. It causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin. Treatment with various creams or ointments can often clear or reduce patches of psoriasis. Affected patches are usually found around the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back but can appear anywhere on your body. Psoriasis is not due to an infection, it is not contagious or cancerous.
Psoriasis is caused by an acceleration of the body’s production of skin cells. In most individuals, the process of replacing skin cells takes between three and four months but in cases of psoriasis, this is speeded up to as little as every three days. This results in a build-up of skin cells, giving a ‘patchy’ appearance to the skin.
Psoriasis can start at any age. The severity of the condition varies from person to person from a minor irritation to a condition that affects an individual’s quality of life. Although it may come and go, unfortunately once you develop psoriasis it tends to be with you through life.
The causes of psoriasis are not fully understood. It is generally considered a genetic disease which can be triggered or influenced by environmental factors. In most people who have psoriasis, there is no apparent reason why a flare-up develops at any given time. However, in some people, psoriasis is more likely to flare up in certain situations
If you think you may suffer from psoriasis, you should contact your GP who can usually diagnose the condition based on the appearance of your skin. If your condition is difficult to diagnose or relatively severe, your GP may refer you to a consultant Dermatologist. Whilst there is no cure for this condition your GP or Consultant dermatologist may be able to help you reduce the symptoms:
- Vitamin D ointment or topical steroid-based ointments applied to the affected area
- Phototherapy - exposing your skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.
- Systemic treatments - oral or injected medicines that work throughout the whole body.