Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin which affects 2% of the population and causes an increase in the rate of the cell turnover.
The normal rate of cell turnover is around a month but in psoriasis, it can be as little as 3-4 days. This causes a build-up of skin cells which cannot be shed normally and typically presents as well-demarcated pink or red plaques with a superficial silvery scale.
The plaques tend to be symmetrical and most often occur on the knees, elbows and shins but can occur anywhere on the body. The scalp and flexures of the axillae (armpits) and groin may also be affected. Psoriasis can also affect the nails which classically have tiny depressions or pits and with separation of the distal nail margin from the underlying nail plate and may be associated with arthritis (joint pains).
Psoriasis is due to an immune system dysfunction and is not something you can catch nor is it contagious. It is mediated by T-cells, a class of white blood cells which usually fend off attacks from viruses and bacteria, but with psoriasis the T-cells attack the healthy skin stimulating the increased production of new skin cells and causing inflammation.
The cause of the T-cell malfunction is thought to be a genetic predisposition and environmental factors. There is often a positive family history of psoriasis and the environmental causes include:
+ Infection: especially a streptococcal sore throat which can trigger the onset of psoriasis and precede subsequent flares + Stress: this can trigger or aggravate psoriasis + Medication: prescribed medication for high blood pressure such as beta blockers can be associated with psoriasis as can Lithium and stopping strong oral or topical steroids + Alcohol: excess alcohol intake is associated with bad psoriasis. + Obesity + Smoking + Trauma: psoriasis plaques localize to areas of skin trauma such as a scar. The medical term for this is called Koebnerisation.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that flares and subsides intermittently over life. While there is no cure for psoriasis (meaning the condition cannot be eradicated completely so a future flare-up never occurs), there are many ways to manage the symptoms.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes red patches of inflamed skin with silver-white scales, often on the elbows and knees but also commonly affecting the scalp, face and folds of skin (such as the back of your knees and elbows). It is an autoimmune disease, which is not contagious, and occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous substances.
A senior Consultant at one of the largest UK Dermatology Centres at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, where she manages paediatric and adult patients with acute and chronic conditions involving the skin, hair and nails.