Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease affecting 2% of the population. It occurs equally in men and women, can appear at any age, and tends to come and go unpredictably. It is not infectious, therefore you cannot catch psoriasis from someone else. It does not scar the skin, although sometimes it can cause a temporary increase or reduction in skin pigmentation. Although psoriasis is a long-term condition there are many effective treatments available to keep it under good control.
Psoriasis can affect the nails and the joints as well as the skin. About half of people with psoriasis have psoriasis affecting the nails. For people with moderate to severe psoriasis about one in three will develop psoriatic arthritis at some time. Psoriatic arthritis produces swelling and stiffness in the joints or stiffness in the lower back and should be managed by a rheumatologist who works closely with your dermatologist and/or your GP.
Psoriasis, particularly moderate to severe psoriasis, is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Moderate to severe psoriasis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and treatment of psoriasis may reduce this risk. Psoriasis can also be associated with an increased risk of harmful use of alcohol, and with diabetes, obesity and venous thromboembolism.
There is no cure for psoriasis but there are several effective treatments available which fall under the categories below:
- Topical treatments, i.e. those that are applied directly to the skin
- Phototherapy, i.e. light therapy
- Systemic treatment, i.e. pills taken orally
- Biologic treatment, which are mostly injections just under the skin
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