Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disorder that affects 2.6% of Australians.1

The affected skin may be red and scaly or have pustules, depending on the type of psoriasis the individual has. The patches appear particularly on the knees, elbows and scalp and sometimes on other parts of the trunk, and legs. Psoriasis affects both sexes and all races. It can occur at any stage of life, although it starts most frequently in young adults.2

Itching can range from mild to intense. Psoriasis rarely affects general health apart from arthritis. A flare in a person’s psoriasis can, however, have a profound impact on an individual’s feelings of wellbeing and have a major impact on their way of life and daily activities. Once a person develops psoriasis it usually continues, although it may get better or worse over time and even seem to disappear for periods of time.

The severity of psoriasis is determined by how much of the body’s surface is covered and how much it affects a person's quality of life. Psoriasis is not curable, although many treatments are available to reduce the bothersome symptoms and appearance of the disease.3

People with psoriasis have higher rates of depression compared to those without the condition. Patients often benefit from working with a psychologist, clinical social worker, or other therapist to discuss their illness and possible ways to cope. A number of organisations, such as Psoriasis Australia, are available to provide support to people with psoriasis and their families3

There are many treatments available for people with psoriasis. Unfortunately, no one treatment helps everyone with psoriasis, and previously beneficial therapies may fail to settle a subsequent flare but then work again in the future. Treatment recommendations usually vary depending on the severity and location of psoriasis, its impact on a person’s quality or way of life and other existing medical conditions.2

References

  1. Cimmino MA. Epidemiology of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Reumatismo. 2007;59 Suppl 1:19-24.
  2. The Australian College of Dermatology – website http://www.dermcoll.asn.au/public/a-z_of_skin-psoriasis.asp (last accessed 8th July 2013)
  3. Stephen Feldman MD PhD, Up to Date website 2011 http://www.uptodate.com/contents/patient-information-psoriasis?source=see_link#H16 (last accessed 8th July 2013)