24 Aug

What is Psoriasis?


Psoriasis is a long-term (chronic) skin problem that causes skin cells to grow too quickly

Normally, skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every four weeks, but in psoriasis new skin cells move more rapidly to the surface of the skin days, sometimes in four days.

How does it affect us?

Our skin plays a very important role in defining who we are. People with this condition may be perceived to be ‘different’ by other people, just because of the appearance of their skin. This can result in a person with psoriasis feeling anger or sadness about their condition, which in turn can affect self-esteem, relationships and even careers.


Although there is no cure, most cases can be managed effectively. It tends to be sporadic, and treatment responses vary between patients, and over time.

The main aims of treatment are to minimize the severity of symptoms and reduce its impact on the patient’s quality of life.

Who may be affected?

In some cases, it runs in families. Experts believe that it may be triggered by injury, infection, certain types of drugs and stress (Including both physical and emotional stress).

It most often appears on the knees, elbows and scalp, but can affect any area of the skin including the nails.



There are several subtypes.

• Plaque-type psoriasis, the commonest form, presents as red, thick lesions covered in a silver scale.

• Guttate psoriasis presents as numerous, small oval shape lesions. These emerge, usually on the trunk, after acute respiratory tract infections. It often affects children and younger people.

• Localized pustular psoriasis presents as either discrete papules or plaques that express pustules on their surface. In many cases, it emerges on the palms or soles, a condition called palmoplantar pustular psoriasis.

• Generalized pustular psoriasis affects a larger area, sometimes even involving the entire body.

• Erythrodermic psoriasis causes patients to have severe, generalized erythema and scaling that can involve the whole body.

• Scalp psoriasis usually presents as thick, patchy scales and redness on the scalp. Patients may complain of sever itching and tightness of the scalp.

• Flexural psoriasis is found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in other skin folds.

Topical treatments

• Emollients
• Coal tar -based products
• Dithranol
• Vitamin D analogues
• Keratolytics
• Topical retinoids
• Topical corticosteroids

Other treatments

• Light Therapy
• Oral Therapy
• Biologics

What’s new?

• There are studies that show an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with this skin condition.
• What this means is that patients have an increased risk of high cholesterol and heart attacks.

© 2018 Dr Dilshaad Asmal, Dermatologist


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