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 steroid
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.

Scalp care
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 online at

Useful addresses
The Psoriasis Association
Dick Coles House
2 Queensbridge
08456 760 076 (local rate)

Further information

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