Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects around 2% of people in the UK, with people aged between 11 and 45 at highest risk. It is caused by new skin cells reaching the surface of the skin before they are ready. In normal circumstances it takes the new skin around 21 days to reach the surface, but for people with psoriasis it can be 3 to 6 days. Because the skin isn’t ready it appears red and flaky. It can also cause the feeling of burning or itching for sufferers, most commonly affecting the elbows, knees and scalp.
Although psoriasis symptoms come and go, it is a long lasting condition that can come back at any time. Unfortunately there is no cure for psoriasis but there are psoriasis treatments that can help ease symptoms when they do occur.
The condition can be treated quite easily using topical creams from your GP. Topical corticosteroids and vitamin D analogues are commonly used.
Phototherapy can also be used to help skin conditions through ultra violet light. UVB (ultraviolet B) phototherapy is often used if topical treatments do not work. The UVB light slows down the production of skin cells.
PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) can be used for severe cases of psoriasis. However it isn’t a long term solution as it can increase the chances of developing skin cancer. The psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to light and the ultraviolet A light can penetrate the skin deeper than ultraviolet B light.
Medicine can be used to restrict the production of skin cells. This can be very effective but comes with potential side effects. so psoriasis medicines are normally only used for severe cases that other treatment has not helped.