Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting about 2 in every 100 people. The condition is caused by changes in the life cycle of the skin cell, causing the cells to grow 10 times faster than normal! Because of this, the surface of the skin becomes thickened. Here are 10 fast facts about psoriasis.
- The cause is unknown but triggers can include:
- cold weather
- drinking heavily
- certain medication.
Often, you’ll have someone in the family who also suffers from Psoriasis.
- Psoriasis is a persistent and chronic condition, which goes through cycles of getting better and worse.
- Although there is no cure, the goal of treatment is to stop the cell growing so quickly, and to remove the thickened layer of skin.
- Psoriasis is not contagious.
- The knees, elbows and scalp are most commonly affected, but lesions can occur anywhere on the body.
- The condition is recognised by red patches of skin, covered by a silvery scale. The skin can be very dry, cracked and bleed. Many patients experience severe itching.
- Nails can also be affected, showing thickened pitted nails.
- 20% of patients have psoriatic arthritis symptoms with swollen, stiff joints.
- Many patients suffer from psychological effects, such as depression, low self-esteem, and social isolation.
- Exposure to sunlight can improve the condition, but care needs to be taken to not burn the skin.
Diagnosis and treatment
Your doctor will make the diagnosis is by taking a full history, doing a thorough examination and a skin biopsy. Medical treatment involves use of creams and lotions, oral medications and light therapy.
To soothe psoriasis, soak in a lukewarm bath, with added oil, daily. Use only mild soaps, and apply an unscented moisturiser on your skin, once dry. Eat a Mediterranean diet, with lots of fish, fresh vegetables and healthy oils, and avoid alcohol and smoking.
Dr Ingrid de Beer