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Ask A Dermatologist: Six Things to Know About Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes patches of flaky skin that can form scales. It can vary in severity and affect your comfort, confidence and quality of life.
It’s often grouped together with other conditions like eczema and rosacea. Our Head of Medical, Dr Jason Thomson explains, “Rosacea, eczema and psoriasis all have differences [but] they’re all inflammatory skin conditions that can be influenced by our mental health and stress levels.”
Shining a light on psoriasis specifically, it’s an immune condition that has no long-term cure, but a range of treatments are available to improve symptoms and the appearance of the skin patches.
We asked Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Malvina Cunningham, six quick-fire questions about psoriasis and what to look out for.
Skin + Me: What is psoriasis?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: Psoriasis is an immune condition that affects the skin and sometimes also the joints and nails. It causes red, scaly circular rashes on the skin that can also appear darker in skin of colour. It can affect any part of the body including the scalp and genitals.
Skin + Me: How common is psoriasis in adults and children?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: Psoriasis is a common condition that’s thought to affect between two to three percent of people and it can develop at any age.
In children, it’s more commonly seen in the late teens and less often below the age of 10. Psoriasis is a chronic condition, meaning it is there for life but it can have varying severities at different stages of life.
Skin + Me: What is psoriasis caused by?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: Psoriasis is an immune condition that causes the skin turnover process to rapidly speed up. This means that the top layer of the skin is replaced every three to four days instead of the usual three to four weeks.
Psoriasis can be genetic, but it can also be triggered by other factors such as stress, infection and certain medication.
Skin + Me: How is psoriasis diagnosed?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: The diagnosis is usually straightforward as psoriasis has a very characteristic appearance (red, scaly circular rashes). Usually, no specific tests are needed.
Skin + Me: What other rashes and skin conditions could psoriasis be confused with?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: Psoriasis presents with ‘plaques’ that are circular in shape and can be confused with other circular rashes such as ringworm. A health professional will be able to distinguish the two conditions.
Skin + Me: Is there anything else people need to know about psoriasis in children?
Dr Malvina Cunningham: Psoriasis is a visible condition that can be symptomatic and itchy and causes the skin to flake. It can have a significant impact on a patient’s well-being, their mood and their self-esteem. It’s important to recognise this, particularly in children – early effective treatment can have an important impact on the child’s social development and life.
Treating and living with psoriasis
Psoriasis can be a minor irritation or, at the other end of the severity scale, have a massive impact on the quality of your life.
See a health professional for a diagnosis. While it can’t be ‘cured’ long-term, they can recommend your best form of treatment. This may include topical corticosteroids or in extreme cases, phototherapy. Skin + Me doesn’t treat psoriasis, but there are health professionals who can help.
If psoriasis is affecting your confidence, there are also support groups available – like the Psoriasis Association who can give you more advice and connect you to people living with the condition.
Medical facts checked by Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Malvina Cunningham
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