Did you know that August is #PsoriasisAwarenessMonth?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects approximately 2-3% of the population. The body’s immune system becomes overactive and triggers inflammation within the skin, the joints and other organs. It is characterized by raised red/pink lesions called plaques which are covered by a silvery white scale. On darker skin types these patches may appear darker in colour.
The plaques commonly appear symmetrically on the elbows, knees, scalp/behind the ears, but can appear anywhere on your body and may affect the nails in up to 50% of patients and also joints.
Up to 25% of psoriasis patients also have joint involvement. Inflammation which courses through the body can also increase the risk of other conditions such as diabetes, high BP, high cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes in those who suffer with moderate-severe psoriasis.
For those who suffer with mild psoriasis this may be managed with topical therapies often containing tar, salicylic acid, steroids, Vitamin D analogues or a combination of them all depending on the affected site.
Phototherapy, or light therapy is also used to treat those with mild-moderate psoriasis and is particularly effective in managing an acute eruption of guttate psoriasis which often appears suddenly after an infection, such as a sore throat. This involves exposing the skin to a very specific and safe range of narrowband ultraviolet- B light on a regular basis (usually 3 times a week) under medical supervision by a Consultant Dermatologist. It is typically successful in clearing psoriasis in the majority of patients. The duration of clearance is very variable – from a few weeks to several years in some patients. This is a very safe form of therapy and can also be used during pregnancy and in children.
Psoriasis can have a considerable impact on a patient’s mental health, relationships and intimacy. Patients with greater than 10% body surface involvement of psoriasis are considered to have more severe disease. Often when patients have this level of psoriasis topical treatments are poorly effective and cumbersome to use. In these patients phototherapy, oral systemic medications or injectable biologic agents can be used. Patients with psoriatic arthritis also require systemic or biologic treatments.
Stay tuned this month where we’ll be talking about our tops tips, and best treatments