WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterised by raised, red, scaly plaques which appear most commonly on the skin of the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. It affects 2-4% of men and women, and it can start at any age including childhood, with peaks of onset at 15–25 years and 50–60 years. It tends to persist as a lifelong condition, fluctuating in extent and severity.
WHAT CAUSES PSORIASIS?
The precise cause of psoriasis is not known. However, it is known that it is an immune- related inflammatory disease, and that both inherited and environmental factors play a role in the development of psoriasis.
The outer layer of skin (the epidermis) contains skin cells which are continuously being replaced. This process normally takes between three and four weeks but in psoriasis there is an excessively rapid production of skin cells, these being formed and shed in as little as three or four days. This leads to the formation of the scaly plaques and patches of skin that are characteristic of psoriasis.
WHAT DOES PSORIASIS LOOK LIKE?
The skin changes of psoriasis (known as patches and plaques) are pink or red areas with silvery-white scales. Many people have just a few lesions but some patients with moderate to severe psoriasis may have lesions covering large areas of their body.