Psoriasis is a chronic condition that affects primarily the skin. It begins as inflammation of the skin and typically becomes visible through plaques (patches) of flaky, red, scaly and potentially itchy skin. The extent of inflammation varies but in the majority of cases people are affected in small patches. It is a long-lasting condition that is usually sporadic in its occurrence and its severity.
CAUSES OF PSORIASIS
Psoriasis occurs when a person’s skin cells regenerate and replace more quickly than usual – the skin cells of someone with psoriasis have a faster turnover. The increased amount of skin cells leads to a build-up which in turn becomes the flaky skin plaques. There is a hereditary factor to consider as one in three sufferers have a close relative also dealing with the condition, however this does not make the condition inevitable.
SYMPTOMS OF PSORIASIS
Small plaques of psoriasis can attack any areas of skin without warning. There are numerous varying types – the most common being Plaque or Nail psoriasis. Psoriasis tends to occur in areas of trauma, particularly broken skin (e.g. shaving). While it can start small, the plaque can evolve and become more widespread on the body.
The most common symptoms are:
- Red patches on skin
- Scale-like skin
- Dry/cracked skin
- Swollen and stiff joints
- Ridged nails
- Itching, burning or soreness
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Typically, a GP will be able to make a diagnosis by simply observing the appearance of your skin. In rarer cases a skin sample may be taken or you may be referred to a dermatologist.
The treatment offered or suggested varies as it will depend entirely on the severity and the type of Psoriasis you have. Treatments are put into the following categories and can sometimes be offered as a combination:
- Topical – ointments and creams
- Phototherapy – ultraviolet light therapy
- Systemic – injected/oral medication
Your GP may advise you of situations that potentially could exacerbate the issue of Psoriasis – and make you more susceptible to the condition. This includes but is not exclusive to:
- Infections – particularly a sore throat
- Injury to skin
- Sunlight (while some report it helps it has also been known to have the opposite effect)
- Alcohol (excessive consumption)
LIVING WITH PSORIASIS
The best action sufferers can take is to dutifully follow their care plan and if possible, make a few lifestyle alterations to ease the condition. Even when the treatment begins to relieve your symptoms, it is vital you continue as prescribed as this should help you avoid ‘flare-ups’.
There are also a lot of support groups which could help in the way of advice and a sense of community regarding the condition, the main one being The Psoriasis Association.
Here at The New Malden Diagnostic Centre we have a highly experienced team who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of Psoriasis.
If you feel you need advice and help managing your condition or you are yet to be diagnosed but feel you have symptoms, please do not hesitate to get in touch, by calling 020 8942 6555 or visiting our website.