Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects approximately 2% of people in the UK and affects men and women equally.  It is characterised by the build-up of skin cells as they divide more quickly than normal. Usually, it covers a small area of the skin such as the scalp, elbows, knees or back, but can also be more widespread, and can be associated with arthritis.  It is a long-term condition

What causes psoriasis?

The inheritance pattern of psoriasis is complex and likely to involve several genes and not all of these have yet been identified.  It is certainly more common in people who have a family history of psoriasis.  It can be exacerbated by stress, smoking, obesity, certain medication including beta-blockers and lithium, and infection.

What are the different types of psoriasis?

Guttate psoriasis is common in younger patients and after infections especially streptococcal sore throat and presents with multiple drop-like very small plaques all over the body.

Chronic plaque psoriasis is the most common presentation and may be limited to the knees and elbows or more widespread involving other sites on the trunk, limbs, scalp, and ears.  The scalp and the nails can also be involved and psoriasis at these high impact sites can be particularly troublesome.

Palmoplantar psoriasis means psoriasis that occurs mainly on the palms and soles although other sites may also be involved.

Pustular psoriasis is a rare type of psoriasis with multiple tiny pus-filled spots appearing within the plaques on the trunk and limbs.  It can evolve rapidly to cover a large area of skin and require emergency treatment.

Erythrodermic psoriasis means that nearly all of the skin is affected which is a medical emergency that requires urgent attention.

Are there any associated conditions?

Psoriatic arthritis affects approximately 5-7% of patients with psoriasis and can occur in a number of different patterns.  It is important to treat psoriatic arthritis because if left untreated, damage to the joints can occur.

There is an association between moderate to severe psoriasis and an increased risk of anxiety, depression and the harmful use of alcohol.

Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis are also more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, venous thromboembolism, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and inflammatory bowel disease.

How is psoriasis treated?

Psoriasis is a long term condition for which there is currently no cure for it but Dr Williams can offer a number of effective treatment options to control it.  Mild to moderate cases can respond well to topical treatments or phototherapy that exposes the skin to ultraviolet light.   Severe psoriasis requires systemic medication such as methotrexate, ciclosporin, acitretin or the newer biologic treatments.

Find out more:

Click for further info from British Association of Dermatologists on Psoriasis

Click for further info from British Association of Dermatologists on Treatments for Moderate to Severe Psoriasis