Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that causes red scaly patches on the skin. It can also cause nail problems, scalp scaling/dandruff, genital psoriasis and arthritis or joint pains. There is new evidence that people with psoriasis could have a higher risk of heart problems.
It is common affecting 2 in 100 people. Like Eczema, Psoriasis has a genetic link and can run in families. It can also be triggered or worsened by stress and certain types of infection.
Diagnosis of psoriasis is not always straightforward and you should see you dermatologist if there is any doubt. Most people tend to have problem areas involving elbows, knees, ears, scalp and nails, but anywhere can be affected. Psoriasis can also come up in scars.
There are lots of treatments for psoriasis and treatment should be tailored to the individual. Whilst it is not possible to cure psoriasis there are lots of treatments that can help. Occasionally psoriasis will just resolve or improve.
The treatments range from creams and gels for the skin to strong medicine by mouth that works by suppressing the immune system. The most common of these are methotrexate, ciclosporin and acitretin. The newest treatments are given by injection and are called “biologics”. The are generally given if the tablet treatments are not effective or tolerated.
If a patient has psoriatic arthritis as well as skin problems their care will usually be shared between a rheumatologist and their dermatologist. It is also important to get help if you are experiencing stress to support you with this important factor in psoriasis.