Psoriasis… the facts
Psoriasis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory skin disorder that affects at least 73,000 people in Ireland. It is very common and has a long-term effect with no current known cure.
It is characterised by abnormal raised skin, and it varies in coverage from small, localised patches to full body coverage. These patches normally appear on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on the body.
There are many recognised causes such as:
- Emotional stress
- Strep throats
- Cuts, scraps and surgery can initiate Psoriasis
- Plaques of red skin, often covered with silver-coloured scales.
- Plaques may be itchy and painful, and they sometimes crack and bleed.
- In severe cases, the plaques will grow and merge, covering large areas.
- Disorders of the fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and pitting of the nails, where the nails may also crumble or detach from the nail bed.
- Can cause plaques of scales or crust on the scalp.
- Rigid and swollen joints
- Plaque Psoriasis: a type of psoriasis that causesthick, raised, scaly patches of skin to develop. These scaly patches often form on the elbows, knees, and scalp, and they may last for weeks, months, or years.
- Pustular Psoriasis: which causes red and scaly skinwith tiny pustules on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Guttate Psoriasis: which often starts in childhood or young adulthood, causes small, red spots, mainly on the torso and limbs. Triggers may be respiratory infections, strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, injury to the skin, and taking antimalarial and beta-blocker medications.
- Inverse Psoriasis: which makes bright red, shiny lesions that appear in skin folds, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.
- Nail Psoriasis:can cause discolouration, and changes in shape or thickness
- Psoriatic Arthritis:type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joints. The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that between 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.
Treatment and prevention
Psoriasis treatments aim to stop skin cells from growing so quickly and to remove scales. Emollient therapies are the cornerstone of Psoriasis self-management. However which treatments you use depends on how severe the psoriasis:
- Topical – creams and ointments
- Oral or injected medications
- Light therapy (phototherapy)
- Avoid triggers.
- Regular use of emollients.
- Prevent skin injuries.
- Avoid infections.
Psoriasis can seriously affect the quality of life of people living with the condition. There are several support groups in Ireland if you need to seek further help, such as irishskin.ie and hse.ie.