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What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition. The disease is characterised by the rapid build-up of skin cells, causing inflammation and scaling on the skin’s surface.

Typically, skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface, and eventually they fall off. The typical life cycle of a skin cell is one month. In people with Psoriasis, this production process may occur in just a few days and the skin cells don’t have time to fall off. This rapid overproduction leads to the build-up of skin cells.


Doctors are unclear as to the exact underlying cause of Psoriasis. However, the two general factors are:
•   Immune System: Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are the result of the body attacking itself. In the case of Psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack the skin cells. This causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive and develop too quickly.
•   Genetics: Some people inherit genes that make them more likely to develop Psoriasis. If you have an immediate family member with the skin condition, the risk for developing Psoriasis is higher.

External factors may trigger Psoriasis or cause recurring flare-ups. These triggers aren’t the same for everyone and they may change over time. Common triggers include:
•   Stress
•   Alcohol
•   Injury
•   Infections
•   Certain foods
•   Medications such as: Lithium, antimalarial medications and high blood pressure medication


Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depends on the exact type and the severity of disease you have. Areas of Psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow, or it can cover the majority of the body. The most common symptoms of Psoriasis include:
•   Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
•   Whitish-silver scales or plaques on the red patches
•   Dry skin that may crack and bleed
•   Soreness around patches
•   Itching and burning sensations around patches
•   Thick, pitted nails
•   Painful, swollen joints

Most people with Psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Psoriasis is diagnosed by a Doctor using a physical examination. If the symptoms are unclear, or if your doctor wants to confirm their suspected diagnosis, they may conduct a biopsy.

There is currently no known cure for Psoriasis. Treatments aim to reduce inflammation and scales, slow the growth of skin cells, and remove plaques. The exact treatment used will depend on the type and severity of the condition. The main categories of medications used to treat Psoriasis are Antipsoriatic Agents and Immunosuppressive Agents.

Treatment may include:
•   Topical treatments such as: Topical Corticosteroids, Topical Retinoids, Anthralin, Vitamin D analogues, Salicylic acid and Moisturisers
•   Systemic medications such as: Biologics, Retinoids, Cyclosporine and Methotrexate
•   Light therapy using ultraviolet (UV) or natural light

These lifestyle changes may also help ease symptoms of Psoriasis and reduce flare-ups:
•   Lose weight
•   Eat a heart-healthy diet
•   Drink less alcohol
•   Regular exercise
•   Take vitamin supplements

Additional Information

There are various forms of Psoriasis including:
•   Plaque Psoriasis
•   Guttate Psoriasis
•   Pustular Psoriasis
•   Inverse Psoriasis
•   Erythrodermic Psoriasis
•   Nail Psoriasis

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) estimates that 15 percent of people with Psoriasis will develop another condition called Psoriatic Arthritis.

Psoriasis isn’t contagious. Touching a Psoriatic lesion on another person won’t cause you to develop the condition.

Also see: Autoimmune Diseases

Medical Disclaimer

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Published Date:

22nd March 2019


Mediv8 Admin