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Psoriasis: An overview and some basic facts

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Useful information about psoriasis

Having psoriasis diagnosed can be a lot to take on board. You may feel a little overwhelmed. You may feel relieved that, at last, your condition has a name and you are on the way to managing it. However, this relief may often be mixed with feelings of frustration, anger, sadness and even depression.1

If you have psoriasis, you don’t have to just put up with it. Getting support and learning as much as you can, can help you cope, whether you have mild, moderate or severe psoriasis.1

What exactly is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition.2 It occurs when your immune system attacks healthy skin cells. In an effort to heal, new skin cells grow too quickly. With psoriasis, the normal cycle of skin cells, which usually takes about a month, is sped up to just a matter of days. The excess skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin and ‘plaques’ form.3

There are different types of psoriasis:2,4

  1. Plaque psoriasis
    - Plaque psoriasis can also affect the scalp, known as scalp psoriasis
  2. Psoriatic arthritis
  3. Guttate psoriasis
  4. Pustular psoriasis
    - Including palmoplantar pustulosis5
  5. Inverse psoriasis
  6. Erythrodermic psoriasis

The most common form is plaque psoriasis.6 Plaque psoriasis appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white build-up of dead skin cells.3 Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body but is most common on the elbows, knees and scalp.2,4

Psoriasis can be associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease2 and depression.4

Everyone’s experience of psoriasis will be different.2 Some people will only have mild symptoms, with occasional patches and itching. For others symptoms can be much more severe.3 They may have large patches which are very itchy and crack and bleed. Severe psoriasis can have an emotional impact, causing depression and low self-esteem.2,4

How many people are affected?

Psoriasis affects about 2 or 3 in every 100 people worldwide.2 It is equally common in men and women.3

Psoriasis can start at any age. Most people develop psoriasis between the ages of 15 to 35 years. Three quarters of psoriasis cases happen before the age of 46. However, some people are diagnosed in their late 50s and early 60s.2

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. It is a complex condition thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. Psoriasis has many possible triggers; stress, certain medicines, skin injuries, allergies, diet, weather, smoking and alcohol.2,7

Psoriasis is not contagious. It cannot be passed by touching, swimming or even intimate contact.2

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

UK/IE MAT-25911 Date of prep: June 2019

  1. diagnosed (accessed June 2019).
  2. (accessed June 2019).
  3. (accessed June 2019).
  4. (accessed June 2019).
  5. (accessed June 2019).
  6. NICE guidance. Psoriasis assessment and management. 2012.
  7. MP Schon and WH Boehncke. N Engl J Med 2005; 352(18): 1899-912.

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