Introduction of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a medical condition that most commonly involves skin cells growing too quickly. Faulty signals originating in the immune system cause new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks. The excessive skin cell growth leads to psoriasis lesions. The lesions have three characteristic features: scaling, thickening and inflammation (redness). It is important to stress that the accelerated cell growth has nothing to do with cancer.
Everyone’s experience of psoriasis will be different, varying from very mild occasional patches and itching to a much more severe physical symptoms. However, one common trait is the dry patches of red, scaly skin that occur on the body, either on elbows, joints, legs, scalp, back to larger patches which may cover a significant area of the body. Psoriasis is a long-lasting skin disease that can involve periods when no symptoms occur to mild or more severe periods when symptoms are more apparent. There are varying forms of psoriasis, including plaque, guttate, pustular, inverse and erythrodermic psoriasis. The symptoms for each are similar.
Up to 30% of people who have psoriasis may also get psoriatic arthritis in their joints. If you think you may be affected, talk to your doctor and explain why.
What is psoriasis of the scalp?
Psoriasis of the scalp is a skin disorder resulting in raised, red, scaly, patches that feel uncomfortable and itchy. You may have one or two patches or the whole scalp may be affected. Psoriasis patches can appear on the back of your neck, forehead and behind your ears.
What is psoriasis of the skin?
Psoriasis of the skin is when dry, red, raised patches appear that normally have a silvery, scaly appearance. These often appear on the joints, legs, arms, feet, hands or neck. Psoriasis can occur in small patches or all over the body. Bleeding, cracking and intense itching may occur.
What is plaque psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. Around 80% of people suffering from psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. This form causes red, raised, inflamed, patches of skin, usually with silvery scales to appear. These patches normally occur on the elbows and knees.
What does psoriasis look like?
Psoriasis appears as red, raised, inflamed patches of skin. These patches may have a silvery, scaly appearance. Mild psoriasis is often characterised by small, isolated patches while severe forms of psoriasis can cause large patches to occur all over the body.
What causes psoriasis?
The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown. It is a complex condition with multiple potential causes, which may be genetic, immunological, environmental and psychological. These factors alter how skin cells function, speeding up the rate at which skin cells are produced and shed. The causes of psoriasis on the skin are not yet fully understood. However, stress, alcohol and infection can trigger a flare-up of psoriasis. Similarly, the causes of psoriasis on the scalp are yet to be determined. Dyeing your hair does not cause psoriasis and hair loss is not directly linked to scalp psoriasis either. A person may suffer from more than one type of psoriasis at the same time.
Psoriasis is not contagious. Nobody gave it to you and you cannot pass it on by touch, swimming in the same pool, or even intimate contact.
How many people are affected?
Anyone can develop psoriasis. It is equally common in men and women and affects about 2-3% of the global population.
Psoriasis can start at any age but most people develop psoriasis between the ages of 20-35. 75% of the psoriasis cases occur before the age of 40. However, it is possible to develop the disease both in childhood and in old age.
Get the information you need to get your psoriasis under control
How psoriasis is diagnosed?
When your doctor first diagnoses psoriasis it can be a lot to take in. Although it can be a relief to learn that your condition has a name and that something can be done, many people find the relief is mixed with feelings of shock, fear, uncertainty - and even anger.
Everyone's experience of psoriasis will be different, varying from very mild occasional patches and itching to much more severe physical symptoms.
If you have psoriasis you don't need to just accept it. By learning as much as you can about the condition, you will have the information you need to manage your psoriasis in the best possible way.
Treating psoriasis is normally via topical creams that are available over the counter or by prescription. These ointments and lotions help to soothe itching and inflammation and are applied directly to the skin. Alternatively, phototherapy and oral medications are available for those who don't react well to topical treatments.
This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
UK/IE MAT-09232 Date of prep: May 2017