HelloSkin’s MedSci team has gathered a list of frequently asked questions and answers relevant to people living with psoriasis.
IS PSORIASIS CONTAGIOUS?
NO, Psoriasis is not contagious! It is not something you can "catch" or that others can catch from you.
WHAT TRIGGERS PSORIASIS?
For some individuals, factors such as infections, stress, alcohol and/or smoking appear to have a role triggering flares of psoriasis. For some patients, certain medications such as beta blockers, lithium and antimalarial medication can cause psoriasis to flare. Obesity appears as well to be associated with psoriasis and in overweight patients exercise and losing weight can be beneficial.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis may not have any associated symptoms but in certain cases, it can be itchy or painful. The scalp, lower legs and groin affected by psoriasis can be particularly itchy. If psoriasis affects the hands and feet, painful fissures or cracks can develop. Severe psoriasis on the body can also develop painful fissures.
Psoriasis may start as a raised scaly rash on the elbows, knees, lower back or scalp (Chronic plaque psoriasis), or as widespread small red scaly lesions (Post-streptococcal acute guttate psoriasis)
Psoriasis can affect the nails and the joints as well as the skin. About half of people with psoriasis have psoriasis affecting the nails. The lifting of the nail plate from the nail bed, which occurs in the affected nails can be painful.
About one in three people with moderate to severe psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis at some time during the disease. Psoriatic arthritis produces swelling and stiffness in the joints or stiffness in the lower back and should be managed by a rheumatologist.
HOW SEVERE IS MY PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is usually divided into three levels of severity. These are based upon how much of your body is covered in lesions:
- Mild psoriasis – covers less than 3 % of the body
- Moderate psoriasis – covers 3-10 % of the body
- Severe psoriasis – covers over 10 % of the body
(The surface area of the hand equals about 1 % of the skin.)
The severity of psoriasis is also measured by how much psoriasis affects a person's quality of life. For example, psoriasis can have a serious impact on one's daily activities even if it involves a small area, such as the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.