Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting between 1-2% of the population.
It presents as red, thick, scaly plaques which may or may not be itchy.
Commonly affected areas:
- The elbows.
- The knees.
- The scalp.
- Psoriasis may occur anywhere on the body including in the body folds ('inverse psoriasis').
- Numerous smaller thinner lesions may appear particularly after tonsillitis and other infections. This 'guttate' form of psoriasis is usually temporary, resolving after three to four months.
- It is not uncommon for patients with psoriasis to have abnormalities of their nails - eg. pitting, lifting of the nail or subungual hyperkeratosis.
- Occasionally pustules may develop within and around the nail bed, on the distal fingers and on the palms and soles of the feet.
- Inflammation of the joints, particularly the small joints of the hands and feet but also the larger joints and spine may also be affected (psoriatic arthritis).
Psoriasis is determined by genetic factors whilst stress, infection and certain medications may worsen the condition
- Treatment is arranged according to the site and severity of the psoriasis.
- Treatments range from emollients to tar, topical steroid and vitamin D creams and ointments.
- Sunlight or UVB exposure is indicated for more extensive psoriasis.
- Certain medications are available for severe and resistant cases whilst biologic therapy may be very successful in those patients who are unresponsive to the treatments mentioned above.
- Biologic therapy involves the injection or infusion of monoclonal antibodies directed against components of the inflammatory pathway responsible for the clinical lesions of psoriasis.
Research into new biologic therapies is ongoing, giving hope to those patients with severe psoriasis who may not have responded as well as they would have liked to existing treatments.