You've probably heard of Psoriasis, but you might not actually know what it's all about. Psoriasis is a recurring, long-lasti skin condition that affects around 2 to 3% of the total population, and although that might not sound much percentage wise, that's a WHOLE lot of people in reality.
Currently, there is no known cure for psoriasis, and doctors reckon that it's all down to your genetics. It tends to pop up between the ages of 15 and 25, but can develop at a later stage in life too.
For anyone who doesn't suffer from it, it might sound like no biggie, but any skin condition can have a big social & psychological impact on daily life thanks to the embarrassment, stress, depression that it can cause.
Oh, and look. Kim Kardashian has it, as does Cara Delevingne.
What does it do to you?
In very simple terms, people with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells. While your skin cells are normally made and then replaced every three/four weeks, psoriasis causes this process to last about three to seven days instead.
As a result, you get a build up of skin cells, which then create the red and silver visible patches that are associated with psoriasis.
You'll usually find it on the scalp, face, back,elbows, palms,legs, knees and even the soles of your feet. And basically, they're REALLY BLOODY ITCHY.
What can cause and trigger psoriasis, then?
Right now, there's no actual definite cause known by doctors, but it's thought to be down to the genes that influence the immune responses in your skin. The immune system is your body's defence against disease and infection, but for people with psoriasis, it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake. Not ideal.
Many people's psoriasis symptoms start or become worse because of one event or 'trigger' in particular, like an injury to your skin, throat infections or using certain medicines. It's more common in the winter though, as the cold temperatures, lack of sunlight and dry heating in homes and offices make things worse.
Oh, and FYI, it ain't contagious. V important.
How can you spot whether you have it?
Psoriasis appears on your bod as raised red patches, which are then covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells that docs like to call scaling. Also keep an eye out for serious itching, redness, or any hardened pesky dry skin.
It's kind of nightmare, because scratching the itch will only worsen your psoriasis, leaving you stuck in a vicious cycle of itching, scratching, and more damaged skin which becomes even more inflamed.
Symptoms of psoriasis range from being barely noticeable to anyone other than yourself, to outbreaks of sore, irritated lesions that cover most of the body. In general, cases are usually mild and covering less than 3% of the body.
What will the doctor say?
A GP can usually give you a psoriasis diagnosis just by looking at your skin (although in rare cases, they might have to send a lil sample of your skin to a lab to rule out any other conditions). They might also refer you to a dermatologist who'll be an expert in this kind of thing.
How do you make it go the eff away?
Unfortunately, there's no flat out cure for psoriasis, which kind of sucks - but there IS a range of treatments available to you which can help to improve the symptoms and minimise the appearance of skin patches.
In most cases, the first treatment used will be a topical barrier treatment, otherwise known as creams and ointments which are easily applied to the skin.
Brands like Dermalex Psoriasis contain complexes which help to activate the skin's own repair mechanism, normalise the rate at which your skin cells mature, and restore the skin's barrier function to reduce the inflammation and prevent any new flare ups. You just use them like a normal moisturiser a few times a day, so they're super easy to have a go with.
If topical treatments don't work, your doctor might suggest phototherapy, which involves involves exposing your skin to certain types of ultraviolet light, or medicines which may also be able to help.
Top tips for handling your psoriasis
- Get to know your triggers to help avoid flare ups. This could include stuff like drinking alcohol, smoking and stress.
- Avoid scratching, picking and rubbing at the skin, for example pat your skin dry instead of rubbing at it with a towel.
- Wear cotton clothing, as synthetics might irritate and heat up the skin and only make things worse, and avoid using bleach, biological washing powders and fabric softener.
- Avoid long showers or baths and make sure the water isn't ever any hotter than lukewarm -and then just stick to non-irritating body wash for sensitive skin types.
- Moisturise regularly to try and minimise the dryness and flaking symptoms.
- While sun exposure may help reduce inflammation in the skin, patients should avoid getting sunburnt, as that definitely won't help anybody struggling with a skin condition like psoriasis.