What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder where there is an increase in the rate at which skin cells are produced and shed. The top layer of the skin is called the epidermis. Normally the cells in this layer are replaced and shed all the time. In psoriasis this happens too fast and leads to pink thickened patches of the skin with silvery white scales. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body but the most common areas affected are the scalp, elbows and knees. It is a fairly common condition affecting about 2% of people.
What causes psoriasis?
The exact cause of psoriasis is still not known. Heredity is thought to play a part as about one third of patients have relatives with the condition. In some people, trigger factors such as infection, stress and sunburn can bring on the condition or make it worse. Diet does not play any role in psoriasis.
Is psoriasis contagious?
No. You cannot give it to other people, even those who come in close contact with you.
Living with psoriasis
There is no cure to psoriasis, though together with your doctor, you can help keep it under control. There will probably be times when there is no psoriasis on your body. Psoriatic skin is more easily damaged than normal skin. You may need to consider skin protection if your job involves hard, manual work. Light coloured clothing is best if scaling is a problem. Old clothes should be worn if you are using messy ointments. The most effective way to manage psoriasis is to learn to recognise and manage feelings. To achieve this, talking about and sharing these concerns with friends, your doctor or even joining a self-help group may help remove these anxieties. Remember, psoriasis is not an infection and cannot transfer to other people by any form of contact. Psoriasis affects 2% of the population or nearly 354,000 of your fellow Australians. Be honest with people who are close to you. Nearly everyone will know someone with psoriasis.
Guidelines to treatment
There is no single treatment that will cure psoriasis. However, it is possible to control it and sometimes clear it. Medications are used which slow down the rate at which the skin cells are produced. It is important to remember that it may take several weeks for your condition to improve. You should continue using your treatment as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist and if it causes you any concern, you should contact them. You will need to make an appointment with a Dermatologist in order to discuss the best treatment options for your particular concern.