WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is a dry skin condition that causes skin cells to grow, or mature, too quickly. In healthy skin, this process takes between 21 and 28 days, but only a few days for psoriatic skin. This leads to a build-up of skin cells causing raised ‘plaques’ on the skin, which can be flaky and scaly. Plaques are salmon pink, and well-defined with a silvery surface scale. On brown and black skin, the patches can also look purple or dark brown, and the scales may look grey. These are not usually as itchy as eczema but can become uncomfortable, and can easily crack and bleed.
It is estimated that psoriasis affects between 2 and 3% of the UK population, which is over 1.5 million people. Psoriasis can start at any age, but most often it begins in the late teens to early 30s or between the ages of 50 and 60.
Types of psoriasis
There are different types of psoriasis which affect the skin. Plaque psoriasis causes large red areas with a raised surface which can affect only one or many parts of the body, often in high friction areas like knees or elbows. Guttate psoriasis is very different, causing lots of little red patches (often called lesions) all over the body. It is sometimes called ‘raindrop psoriasis’. Rarely, psoriasis can also affect the joints. This is called psoriatic arthritis.
Caring for skin with psoriasis
There are many treatments for psoriasis and your GP or nurse will be able to recommend an appropriate therapy for you.
Treatments generally start with topical therapies, such as corticosteroids. Emollients are widely prescribed for patients with psoriasis and they can be used alongside other treatments. Emollients help to soften scales, keep the skin supple, reduce the dryness and improve the appearance of the skin.
The Psoriasis Association is the leading national charity and membership organisation for people affected by psoriasis – patients, families, carers and health professionals- in the UK.
Visit https://www.psoriasis-association.org.uk/ for further information.