Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease caused by overactive cells in the immune system. It can have a major impact on quality of life.
Over 1 million people in the UK suffer from psoriasis, with both men and women equally at risk. The condition is not infectious, but an estimated 30% of sufferers have relatives who are also affected.
Patches of skin (plaques or lesions) appear red, flaky and crusty, and are covered with silvery scales. They can arise anywhere on the body, and have well-defined boundaries with the surrounding skin.
Psoriasis causes intense itching and the skin can split. Some sufferers develop stiff and painful joints.
Changes can appear in the nails, including indentations on the surface or discolouration under the nail.
The most common types of psoriasis are:
- Plaque Psoriasis: red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Scalp psoriasis: ranging from slight, fine scaling to crusted plaques covering the scalp
- Guttate Psoriasis: a rash of small spots often seen in children
There is no cure, but there are effective treatments to manage the signs and symptoms. Most patients with mild-to-moderate psoriasis respond well to topical therapy alone. Agents include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, coal tar preparations, dithranol and retinoid creams.
Types of Psoriasis
This is very common and ranges from slight, fine scaling to crusted plaques covering the whole scalp.
Most often seen in children and sometimes
triggered by a streptococcal throat infection.
Affecting body folds.
Localised or generalised palmar plantar disease.
Nail changes in Psoriasis
Changes in the nails can often be seen. The most striking are:
- Irregular pitting (indentations) of the surface of the nail.
- Circular areas of discolouration under the nail
- Separation of the nail from the underlying nail bed
- Thickening of the nails.