Psoriasis

Nearly three per. of the world’s population suffer from Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition characterised by thick, flaking patches of skin. Here at What Skin Needs we want everyone to understand the condition, so we are taking a look at the different types, what causes it and what can help.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune condition, which causes symptoms on the skin and sometimes the joints. When a person has psoriasis, their skin replacement process speeds up, taking just a few days instead of 21-28 days to replace skin cells. This abundance of skin cells builds up to form raised ‘plaques’ on the skin, which can also be flaky, scaly, red and itchy. Psoriasis can happen on any area of the body, such as the scalp, hands, feet and genitals. However, different types can appear on different areas.

What are the different types of Psoriasis?

There are various types of psoriasis and different ways of treating it:

·       Plaque psoriasis

It is the most common type and you get pinkish-red plaques (raised patches) with silver scales, often on your back, knees and elbows.

·       Flexural psoriasis

Also called inverse psoriasis, this type affects the areas where skin folds, such as your armpits and groin because skin tends to be thinner here. Flexural psoriasis causes patches of smooth red, shiny skin, which may be itchy or uncomfortable.

·       Pustular psoriasis

This is a rare and severe form of psoriasis, in which small pus-filled spots develop on your skin. Some people may just get them on the palm of their hands or soles of the feet. However, if it happens all over your body, it can be life threatening and you’ll need treatment in hospital, it’s called generalised pustular psoriasis.

·       Erythrodermic psoriasis

This is another rare and severe form in which your skin becomes red and inflamed all over. Erythrodermic psoriasis usually develops in people who already have another types of psoriasis, it can cause serious complications and you’ll need hospital treatment.

·       Guttate psoriasis

·       This form of psoriasis presents itself as small, scaly and inflamed spots of skin that suddenly appear all over your body. It tends to affect children and adults under 30, often after they have had a throat infection.

What causes it?

It is difficult to know what specifically causes Psoriasis, but it’s believed to be related to a problem with the immune system, as the immune system is your body’s defence against disease and infection. As their immune systems are weaker, it means infections attack healthy skin cells by mistake. Psoriasis symptoms may start or become worse, due to a trigger. The possible triggers of psoriasis can include an injury to your skin, throat infection and using certain medication. You do not need to worry as the condition is not contagious and it cannot be spread from person to person.

Is there a cure?

There is currently no known cure and it is believed to have a genetic predisposition. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that will consist of periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by a period of more severe symptoms. A range of treatments can help manage symptoms and the appearance of skin patches. Finding the right treatment or combination can be a process of trial and error.

What treatments are there?

Psoriasis is a very unique condition and will be different to each individual; therefore what works for one person may not necessarily for another. Treatments for Psoriasis can range from topical creams and shampoos, through to Ultra-Violet light therapy, systemic tablets and biologic injections. A GP will decide on the best course of action, depending on the severity of the condition or if a treatment isn’t working.

What can help ease symptoms?

Fish oil

Eating fish a couple times of week may help reduce inflammation as fatty fishes such as salmon, albacore and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like eating fish, then fish oil supplements are available over the counter and are sold in many food markets and drugstores. Studies have shown that fish oil can help boost the immune system and as psoriasis is an autoimmune disease then this natural treatment could help improve symptoms.

Massage

One of the possible triggers for psoriasis is stress, therefore getting a massage is a great way to relieve stress and help with chronic pain, which often comes hand in hand with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Yoga is also a good way to relieve stress and may help relieve psoriasis symptoms.

Water

When you have psoriasis, being well hydrated will keep your skin from getting too dry so drinking more water may help. The human body is made up of more than 90% water and it needs constantly replenishing. A humidifier is another psoriasis home remedy that will help keep skin moist and can be especially useful in winter.

Fruit and Vegetables

An easy adaption to your lifestyle is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, as colourful fruits and veg consist of disease-fighting antioxidants and are rich in fibre, which will make you full and not likely to overeat. When you have psoriasis, it is important to maintain a healthy weight so that any medication taken will be more effective.

If you believe you have psoriasis, the most important thing to do is to make an appointment to see your GP to get the diagnosis confirmed. Dermatological conditions can appear similar, so it is vital to get the right diagnosis as they can then begin to treat your skin or refer you to a dermatologist.