Psoriasis is a disorder of the skin which typically consists of red patches
covered by silvery-white scales. These result from your skin "turning over" or
shedding its layers much faster than normal.
These red scaly patches are usually found on the elbows, knees, lower back and
scalp although other areas may be affected including the nails. When psoriasis
involves the groin, armpits, genital area and beneath the breasts it tends to be
less scaly. Psoriasis sometimes affects the face. It does not cause scarring and
rarely results in hair loss.
The exact cause is unknown. It may be due, at least in part, to an abnormal
immune reaction against some component of the skin. Genetic factors also play a
part. It is a common disease affecting about 2% of the worlds population.
The rash often seems to start after some sort of trigger factor for example
emotional stress, skin injury, a sore throat. Moderate alcohol intake doesn't
affect it, although it may interfere with certain treatments. Excessive alcohol
may aggravate psoriasis. Psoriasis is not an allergy, nor is it infectious.
Psoriasis may improve or get worse during pregnancy. It does not have any
harmful effect on either mother or child.
Although the predisposition to psoriasis may pass on to the affected person's
children, this does not necessarily mean they will develop the rash.
There are a variety of treatments for psoriasis.
You may find that you only need to use an emollient such as aqueous cream or
diprobase. Your doctor may prescribe ointments and creams.
Topical steroids may occasionally be prescribed for use on your face or skin
folds. They are not recommended for thick patches of psoriasis, since high doses
are required, which then have the side-effect of making your skin thinner.
Dithranol may be prescribed as one of several brands for use at home as short
contact therapy. Short contact therapy involves applying the cream and keeping
it on for up to an hour, on a daily basis -you will be given specific
instructions with you prescription.
Vitamin D Derivatives
These include calcipotriol and Tacalcitol, these drugs are also available in
combination with steroid creams and have been shown to work very well.
Irritation may occur, especially on the face, and genitals. Treatment should
only be applied to these areas on the specific instructions of the doctor.
There are a number of preparations that can be used on the scalp some like
shampoos containing coal tar can be bought from the chemist or online from
E45 cream can and Neutrogena T/Gel Dandruff Shampoo can be bought in confidence
The Psoriasis Association
Dick Coles House
08456 760 076 (local rate)
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Skin, hair and bones
Skin, hair and bones