Skin disease, Psoriasis affects 2% of us

Psoriasis causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.

The patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected with small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.

Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four weeks, but people with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells so this process only lasts about three to seven days. The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.

Although the process isn't fully understood, it's thought to be related to a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body's defence against disease and infection, but for people with psoriasis, it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake.

Many people's psoriasis symptoms start or become worse because of a certain event, known as a "trigger". Possible triggers of psoriasis include an injury to your skin, throat infections and using certain medicines.

Psoriasis can run in families, although the exact role that genetics plays in causing psoriasis is unclear.

It can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. Psoriasis is a long-lasting disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.

It’s unpleasant and can be embarrassing too as the flakes of skin can fall on to clothes. This condition affects men and women equally but it isn't contagious, so it can't be spread from person to person.

For people with moderate to severe psoriasis about one in three will develop psoriatic arthritis at some time. Psoriatic arthritis produces swelling and stiffness in the joints or stiffness in the lower back and should be managed by a rheumatologist who works closely with your dermatologist and/or your GP.Psoriasis, particularly moderate to severe psoriasis, is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Moderate to severe psoriasis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and treatment of psoriasis may reduce this risk. Psoriasis can also be associated with an increased risk of harmful use of alcohol and with diabetes and obesity

There is no cure for Psoriasis but there are various treatments which can help to reduce the spread of the patches and / or the itchiness such as Exorex lotion. Patients with psoriasis are usually treated with creams and ointments, which are applied to the skin although more severe psoriasis may need a variety of other treatments including ultraviolet light or special tablets.

Don’t suffer in silence, if you think that you have Psoriasis speak to your pharmacists or GP for more information

Information supplied by NHS Choices

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