Psoriasis is a chronic, genetic, inflammatory skin condition characterised by patches of thick, silvery scales that flake off. The condition is uncomfortable, itchy and often unsightly.
The severity of psoriasis varies from mild (a few scattered patches) through to severe (covering large areas of the body). The degree of discomfort will vary according to the degree of severity.
Who Gets Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can appear for the first time at any age however it most commonly appears between the ages of 10 and 40 years, and often during puberty. It affects both males and females equally and runs in families.
Although the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown it is known that it does not result from poor hygiene as frequently believed and it is not contagious.
Although born with the predisposition to develop the condition there are some factors that may trigger the initial and subsequent outbreaks. These include skin injury, sore throat, chest infection, some drug treatments, sunburn and stress.
What Happens When You Have Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is the result of an overproduction of skin cells. People with psoriasis produce skin cells nine times faster than normal. This means they have a huge excess of skin to shed.
Because the skin cells are producing so rapidly they do not form properly hence the silvery scales that appear.
What Does Psoriasis Look Like?
Although psoriasis may be almost unnoticeable in its early stages it develops a very distinctive appearance as it progresses. Typically it starts with small red bumps on the skin and then progresses to bigger scaly patches that become itchy and uncomfortable.
As the condition develops the scaly patches develop into deep red plaques with crusty silvery scales on the skin surface. If the scales are removed raw skin will be revealed which may bleed.