What is psoriasis?
This is a chronic skin condition where there is inflammation of the skin characterised by well defined, dry, scaly, red plaques typically over joint surfaces (e.g. knees or elbows).
A number of different types of this condition have been identified. Men and women are equally affected. The condition is seen commonly in the 20-30 age groups and in those in their sixties. This is a non infective condition.
What causes psoriasis?
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. It is classed as an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the healthy body tissue.
What are the risk factors?
- Damage to the skin - Surgical scars, excessive scratching
- Family history
- Smoking and alcohol can make psoriasis worse
- Medications - Certain medications can make psoriasis worse (e.g. antimalarial drugs, beta blockers)
- Psychological stress
What are the symptoms?
- Red dry scaly well defined plaques typically seen over the joint surfaces (e.g. back of elbow, front of knees), trunk and scalp.
- Not usually itchy
- Changes in the nails
- Some patients may develop psoriatic arthritis where their joints are affected and become painful and swollen.
How can psoriasis be treated?
- Topical corticosteroid creams - E.g. Hydrocortisone
- Topical Coal Tar preparations
- Oral medication may also be used to treat this condition (e.g. Methotrexate, Ciclosporin)
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