What is psoriasis?
Frustratingly, psoriasis is one of the skin conditions that science understands the least. While the exact causes are unknown, it is believed that it is related to our genes and immune system.
Whereas, with normal skin, cells are made and replaced within 3-4 weeks, in skin affected by psoriasis this process occurs within 3-4 days, resulting in a build-up of dead, shedding cells on the surface. For some reason, your body tries to get rid of the healthy skin cells, which is why psoriasis is believed to be related to the immune system, our body’s self-defense mechanism. It’s important to note that psoriasis is not contagious.
What does psoriasis look like?
Due to the build-up of these skin cells on the surface, psoriasis manifests as flare-ups of red, flaky, crusty patches on the skin, most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back (although it can occur anywhere). Psoriasis can vary in intensity from person to person, and many find that they experience flare-ups followed by calm periods when the skin is unaffected.
How can I tell if I have psoriasis?
While the “look” of psoriasis-affected skin usually gives it away, there could nevertheless be another cause for your symptoms. Self-evaluation is far from the best way to be sure: a visit to a doctor and/or a dermatologist is your best option. If your doctor or dermatologist is uncertain, they may recommend a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
How can I help treat my psoriasis?
Because science is still unsure about the exact causes of psoriasis, there is no “miracle cure”, but there are ways you can soothe the skin by reducing inflammation. Special skincare regimes exist that have been formulated specifically for conditions such as psoriasis, which hydrate the skin and calm irritation, which in turn stops the itching and reduces the risk of further irritation and infection from scratching.