Psoriasis is a skin condition which can flare up at certain times, and tends to be life long, but can be improved and controlled. It happens because the skin cell turnover is faster in some areas of the skin than others, causing patches and ‘plaques’.
It can take several forms or distributions, large ‘plaques’, small ‘guttate’ patches (like raindrop splatter pattern), ‘flexural’ creases, nail indentations, like pin pricks, and ‘pustular’, often on the soles of the feet, and palms of the hands.
About 1 in 50 people get psoriasis at some point in their lives.
It most commonly starts between ages 15-30, or after 40. It is more common in white people, and in smokers.
It tends to get worse with stress, sore throat streptococcal infections, skin trauma/ scratching, certain medications, hormonal changes, sunburn (though a little sunlight can be helpful), and alcohol.
Addressing these factors will help with controlling flare ups, and the condition can be treated with a variety of prescribed creams and ointments. These need to be used with care and by following instructions about application carefully.
Moisturising is vital, and should be a lifelong habit. Certain creams can also be used as soap substitutes. Check with your GP.
Vitamin D based treatments are the cornerstone of treatment, aiming to decrease the rate of skin cell turnover, and smooth the skin.
Specific scalp treatments are also available.
Steroid treatment creams also work, but should not be used for >4 weeks at a time.
Dithranol is a specific topical treatment for plaques, but can stain fabric, and skin!
Severe psoriasis can be referred to a dermatologist, and more potent treatments used, including light or ‘photo’- therapy.
In some cases people can develop joint problems associated with psoriasis.
Here at SHS we are very keen to help address these issues, and understand just how frustrating and challenging dealing with a chronic skin condition can be, so please book a routine appointment with a GP to discuss any worries you may have about your psoriasis.
Here are some helpful resources too;
http://www.psoteen.org.uk/ (under 21s)