Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition which causes symptoms on the skin and sometimes the joints. When person has psoriasis, their skin replacement process speeds up, taking just a few days to replace skin cells which normally take 21-28 days. This abundance of cells builds up to form raised “plaques” on the skin which can be flaky, scaly, red, and itchy, on any part of the body. There different types of psoriasis, including guttate, plaque, inverse, pustular, and in severe cases, erythrodermic. Psoriasis can also appear on the scalp, and affect the nail beds.
Some people, but certainly not all, with psoriasis may also get psoriatic arthritis, which can cause painful inflammation of the joints.
There are many treatments for psoriasis. These involve avoiding soaps and using moisturisers regularly which is important to reduce the dryness of the skin. Other treatments are often necessary and there are many of these. People with mild to moderate psoriasis will normally be treated with emollients and topical steroids, or UVB phototherapy.
In more severe cases where other treatments have not worked, drugs will be prescribed. Medications for psoriasis include systemic immunosuppressant drugs (ciclosporin, methotrexate, dimethyl fumerate) retinoids (acitretin), and phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors (apremilast).
When psoriasis has not responded to systemic drugs, or if other medications are not suitable, injectable targeted immune-therapies are used. These drugs are known as ‘biologics’, as they target specific parts of the immune system to reduce levels of inflammation associated with psoriasis.
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