Psoriasis affects 1 in 50 people – scaly, itchy, inflamed skin can cause both mental and physical health issues. Dr Alexis Granite tells Healthista everything we need to know about psoriasis
For those that have psoriasis – you’ll be aware of what it is and the burden of living with it. Scaly, itchy, inflamed, irritated skin flakes that never seem to go away no matter what you do.
Each skin condition has different associated genetic and environmental factors and clinical characteristics.
The National Psoriasis Foundation says, ‘A normal skin cell matures and falls off the body’s surface in 28 to 30 days. However, skin affected by psoriasis takes only three to four days to mature and move to the surface.’
Instead of falling off, the skill cells pile up to form raised, red, flaky patches of skin which can become itchy and sore. These most commonly appear on the knees, elbows, scalp and lower back.
psoriasis is a common, immune-mediated, inflammatory skin disease, affecting one in 50 people
Similar to eczema, acne and rosacea – psoriasis is a common, immune-mediated, inflammatory skin disease, affecting one in 50 people. It can occur at any age and affects both men and women equally.
Many well-known celebrities such as, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Cara Delevingne and Jonathan Van Ness, have all openly discussed that they suffer from psoriasis.
To find out more, Healthista spoke to Dr. Alexis Granite – a world-renowned expert in medical and aesthetic dermatology with over 14 years of experience…
What are the signs and symptoms of psoriasis?
The first tell-tale signs include, rashes or patches of red, inflamed skin, often covered with loose scales. The skin is itchy and painful, and can crack or bleed.
Most commonly appearing on the knees, elbows, scalp and lower back, psoriasis may also affect the scalp, nails and joints.
READ MORE: 6 mind-skin rituals to support women through Menopause
What causes psoriasis?
There is a genetic component to psoriasis, in fact having a family member with psoriasis, especially a first degree relative, increases your chances of developing the condition.
Common triggers of flare ups include cold weather, stress, alcohol consumption and smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke.
Can psoriasis lead to any long-term health issues?
Yes it can, in fact, evidence shows an association between psoriasis and arthritis, obesity, depression, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
When it comes to mental health issues, psoriasis, like all chronic skin conditions, can exert a heavy toll on one’s self confidence. It’s important to consult with a dermatologist with experience in managing psoriasis to ensure your treatment is optimised.
Managing your lifestyle and stress levels is also key, exercise, meditation and engaging in hobbies can all help. If psoriasis is significantly interfering with your quality of life, speak to a mental health specialist to discuss potential options such as support groups, private counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and medication.
READ MORE: 14 beauty products this make-up artist with psoriasis swears by
Can psoriasis be treated?
There is no cure for psoriasis but lifestyle modifications and over the counter treatments can help control the disease.
Emollients are a mainstay of psoriasis treatment, keeping the skin well moisturised with a fragrance-free cream, nourishing balm or ointment can help soften and prevent scaly patches.
Ingredients available over the counter such as coal tar, salicylic acid, lactic acid and urea work to remove scales and dry skin. For mild psoriasis topical hydrocortisone is available without prescription to reduce itch and inflammation.
Protecting skin from injury, cold weather and dryness and reducing stress, alcohol consumption and smoking/exposure to secondhand smoke can all help mitigate psoriasis flare ups and manage symptoms.
keeping the skin well moisturised with a fragrance-free cream or ointment can help
Certain alternative therapies have been reported to help alleviate itching and burning associated with psoriasis (although scientific data is lacking), including aloe vera gel, fish oil supplements, dead sea salts and Oregon grape.
For more extensive psoriasis, dermatologists may prescribe a number of topical treatments including prescription steroid and immunomodulator creams.
UVB and PUVA are specialised forms of light therapy which can be administered in the office or with an at home device under the care of a healthcare professional. For the most severe forms of psoriasis, a range of systemic medications are available and can be tailored to an individual’s specific needs.
If you think you have psoriasis it is best to consult with a dermatologist to first confirm the diagnosis and then to discuss treatment and management options.
Dr. Alexis Granite is a world-renowned expert in medical and aesthetic dermatology with over 14 years of experience.
A consultant on the Specialist Registrar in Dermatology in the United Kingdom and is board certified in dermatology in the United States.
She is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group (BCDG) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.