Psoriasis is a chronic condition that manifests in the form of crusty patches of skin covered with white/silver scales on one’s skin. This article will answer 10 commonly asked questions about psoriasis, for those looking to learn a little more about it.
Who gets psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that affects approximately 2 in 100 people in the United Kingdom. Anyone of any age can have psoriasis, but it tends to develop in those between 20-30 years of age and those between 50-60, according to the NHS. Neither men or women are impacted more by psoriasis.
Is psoriasis an inherited condition?
Having a family member with psoriasis increases your risk of developing the condition. However, it is not guaranteed that you will ever get the condition. There are other factors that influence your susceptibility to certain conditions like psoriasis, for example your environment, immune system etc.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Psoriasis can manifest in different ways, however, there are some pretty common symptoms that are clear signs of psoriasis.
Some common symptoms of psoriasis are:
- A rash on the body that appears in patches, often with white flakes/a dandruff appearance that can be minimal to widespread
- A rash that varies in colour, for example that appears purple, grey, pink or red, depending on your skin tone, with a silver/white scale appearance ontop
- Extremely dry/cracked skin (that may appear like eczema)
- Sensation of burning, itching and pain
- Rashes that come and go
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
A GP or dermatologist can diagnose psoriasis through a physical examination and recording of your medical/family history. Often, a dermatologist will take a biopsy of a bit of your skin, which can confirm a diagnosis.
What are the treatment options for psoriasis?
There are several treatment options for psoriasis, most of which focus on getting the condition to a manageable, under control place. If your condition is not severe, it is possible that your GP can treat you, but if it is a bit more difficult to manage, or your symptoms are severe, you will most likely require treatment from a dermatologist.
Some treatments include…
1. Topical creams
Topical creams and/or ointments tend to be the place to start to treat psoriasis symptoms that are not that severe. They would be applied to the areas where psoriasis symptoms are present. Often, these creams and ointments work well enough to keep symptoms at bay. These creams can take many weeks, up to months to work. For those who have psoriasis on their scalp, most likely ointment specifically for a scalp along with a special shampoo will be suggested.
Phototherapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses light to treat psoriasis. It can help to slow down the production of skin cells, calm/suppress an overactive immune system, reduce inflammation and help the itchy associated with psoriasis. Phototherapy can be a good option of treatment for those struggling to get their symptoms under control with creams/ointments.
3. Oral or injected medications
If your psoriasis is more severe, your doctor may suggest that you try an oral or injected medication. These types of medications do have more side effects than treatments like topical creams or phototherapy, but they can often be very effective. There are biological medications (which are usually injections) and non-biological medications (which are usually in tablet form). Your doctor will help you get onto the right medication based on your personal condition experience and medical/health history.
Can psoriasis be cured?
There is no current cure for psoriasis, however it is a manageable condition. A mixture of medical treatment and psychological treatment (if one’s mental health is being affected) can help keep the condition manageable so that you can live your everyday life with confidence.
Is psoriasis contagious?
No, psoriasis is not contagious.
What triggers psoriasis flare-ups?
Many things can trigger a psoriasis flare up, but it will all depend on the person.
Some triggers of psoriasis include:
Anytime that someone with psoriasis has their skin cut, hurt or irritated, a patch of psoriasis may appear. This can even happen from things like bug bites. It is always best practice to try to protect your skin from injury, with or without psoriasis, although at times this is unavoidable.
Individuals who have psoriasis may find that smoking makes their symptoms worse, however it can also make it more difficult to treat. Medications, such as biologics may lose some of their effectiveness when someone is a smoker. If you are not a smoker, it is suggested that you don’t start, as it may increase your chances of developing psoriasis or experiencing flare-ups.
Alcohol can be a major trigger for people with psoriasis. Psoriasis involves a high level of inflammation due to an overactive immune system, and alcohol causes a lot of inflammation in the body. This additional inflammation can make symptoms a lot worse. It can also suppress the immune system’s fighting power against infections. It’s best to avoid alcohol if you can manage to.
Symptoms of psoriasis and general disease activity can vary with hormonal changes in the body, especially for women who may be pregnant. For example, oestrogen has been shown to impact the severity of psoriasis in some patients, in fact, it can actually improve during pregnancy.
5. Immune disorders
Some immune-system related disorders, like HIV, can cause one’s psoriasis symptoms to flare or it can even trigger symptoms for the first time.
Stress can trigger symptoms of psoriasis. It’s important to keep stress levels low to reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
What’s the difference between psoriasis and eczema?
Psoriasis and eczema are different conditions, however they both impact one’s skin.
Some differences include…
- Psoriasis usually shows up as silver scales on one’s skin, while eczema usually shows up as red, inflamed skin.
- Psoriasis is quite common in adults, while eczema is more common in children.
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, while eczema is a chronic skin condition.
… among others!
How does having psoriasis impact one’s quality of life?
Psoriasis not only impacts one’s physical health, but it also can impact one’s mental and emotional health. As psoriasis is a very physically visible condition, it can impact someone’s self esteem to have visible symptoms. Also, the pain, itching and uncomfortability of psoriasis can make living everyday life a bit more difficult, especially with the unpredictability that can come with flare-ups.
We have launched our My Derm app this year, reach out to us to learn more about how the My Derm app can help you self-manage your psoriasis with confidence! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat. Download it here!