Psoriasis recurring skin disease

Psoriasis

 

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, recurring skin disease. Its scope can vary considerably; from mild outbreaks, where the person may not even be aware they have psoriasis, to severe cases, which can be socially disabling and, in rare instances, life-threatening.

Psoriasis vulgaris is the most common form. The first signs of an outbreak are:

  • Red spots or patches.
  • The patches grow bigger and become scaly.
  • The upper scales fall off in large quantities, while the lower layers of scales are firmly fixed.
  • When the scales are scraped off, a number of small, bleeding points can be seen underneath.
  • Psoriasis of the nail often manifests itself as small indentures in the nails. The outbreak can be so severe that the nail thickens and crumbles away.
  • Flexural psoriasis occurs in skin folds (flexures). Red, itchy plaques appear in the armpits, under the breasts, on the stomach, in the groin or on the buttocks. The plaques are often infected by the yeast-like fungus candida albicans.
  • Guttate psoriasis is a special variant which primarily occurs acutely in children and young people due to a streptococcal infection of the throat. Drop-like, scaly patches appear on the entire body. In many cases, the condition disappears by itself after a few weeks or months.

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What is the treatment?

The treatment, which should be carried out in close collaboration between the patient and the GP or the dermatologist, consists of various treatments used locally on the skin and taken by mouth. It depends on the patient’s age, state of health and on the nature of the psoriasis.

Moisturisersare an important factor in treatment for psoriasis and may be all that is needed for mild psoriasis. They reduce dryness, cracking and scaling of the skin.

Special lotions are available for scalp treatment. These often contain salicylic acid, coal tar, sulphur or corticosteroids.

Phototherapy (ultraviolet B, UVB) and photochemotherapy (psoralent ultraviolet A, PUVA) are both used in specialist dermatology centres for widespread psoriasis. Many patients find that natural sunlight also helps.

Intensive research is being carried out to find better treatments for psoriasis and new treatments are regularly introduced which improve the condition in some people.