What is it and what causes it?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes areas of red, scaly and flaking skin. The lesions are itchy and sore and most commonly present at the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, however can occur almost anywhere on the body. In more severe cases psoriasis may further affect the nails and joints in a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.
Poor immunity or a genetic predisposition is thought to be the main cause of psoriasis, however many environmental factors may also trigger episodes in those individuals susceptible to the condition. These include;
- Certain medications, particularly lithium, beta blockers, anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial medications.
- Trauma to the skin.
- Changes in temperature and pressure.
- Dietary factors, smoking.
In an individual suffering from psoriasis, skin cells grow at an abnormally rapid rate, causing a build up of skin cells or psoriatic lesions. Psoriasis most commonly presents between the ages of 15-35 years old, however can occur at any age. It is less likely to affect those under the age of 10, and psoriasis in infants is considered very rare.
The standard method of treatment for uncomplicated psoriasis most often involves a combination of topical steroid application and ultraviolet light therapy (UVB). Exposing the skin to Type B UV light suppresses the skin’s inflammatory response, reduces symptoms of swelling and itchiness, increases vitamin D production and may aid the skin’s natural antibacterial properties.
Is psoriasis contagious?
No. Psoriasis is not contagious. While there is currently no known cure for psoriasis, symptoms can be successfully controlled with specialised treatment.
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
A dermatologist or trained health care provider will examine the area and, if necessary, perform a biopsy for further investigation.
In what areas of the body does psoriasis occur?
The face, eyelids, ears, mouth/lips, skin folds, hands, feet, scalp, back, elbows, knees and nails are all common areas affected by psoriasis and lesions often develop symmetrically.
Can the development of psoriasis be associated with any other health conditions?
The skin ultimately serves as the body’s protective barrier against infection, therefore in cases of severe or widespread psoriasis, infection, fluid loss and poor circulation may result.