What is psoriasis?
There are several types of psoriasis. Patients usually have visibly thickened patches of red skin with grey or white scales. The patches are sometimes referred to as plaques.
Though it is most commonly observed on the knees, elbows and head, psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body.
How is it caused?
A number of factors are associated with a higher probability of developing psoriasis or struggling to successfully treat it, including:
- Genetical (inherited) tendencies
- Stress, depression and anxiety
- Specific medications including beta blockers and lithium
- Excessive alcohol use
- Obesity / being overweight
Why is it treated?
The inflamed plaques can be itchy and sore. Some patients find themselves scratching the areas compulsively, which leads to further thickening of the skin.
The light coloured scales flake away periodically, a particular problem for patients with psoriasis on their scalp, beneath their hair.
When psoriasis occurs on the soles of the feet (palmoplantar psoriasis), painful fissures may form. These make walking painful and can present an infection risk.
Psoriasis is diagnosed by its distinctive features. A Dermatologist will perform a visual inspection of the affected areas in order to distinguish it from other inflammatory conditions.
They may also take a history of previous symptoms, general health and other skin conditions.
Most commonly a course of topical treatment will be recommended. This may include a combination of specific moisturisers, steroid creams or ointments, and other specific prescriptions.
In more serious cases other specialist treatment options may be discussed.
Successful treatment may depend on lifestyle factors. Psoriasis is a condition that may return in the future. So where lifestyle factors that increase the chances of further such as stress, smoking and excess weight are present, healthy lifestyle advice may be given.