Frequently asked questions

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Q. Who gets psoriasis?

A: Psoriasis affects men, women and children alike and can occur at any age from infancy to old age but normally occurs between the ages of 10 and 30. In the UK approximately 2 – 3% of the population have some form of psoriasis.

Q: Is psoriasis catching?

A: The simple answer is no.

Q: What are the different types of psoriasis?

A: Chronic plaque discoid psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris), Guttate psoriasis (Raindrop psoriasis), Scalp psoriasis, flexural psoriasis, napkin psoriasis, palmar plantar pustular psoriasis, generalised pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, nail psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Q: Will my psoriasis go away?

A: In some cases, yes it may clear up for years, in other cases it is a chronic long term condition. Most people find with psoriasis they can work out a regime to manage their condition with the help of their doctor and keep it under control.

Q: Is there a cure for psoriasis?

A: Unfortunately not at the moment. Research is being done and in the last decade great strides have been made in understanding what goes wrong in psoriasis so there is good cause for optimism.

Q: Can diet affect my psoriasis?

A: A healthy diet is important for well being and can reduce your risk of much long term illness. However, there is no clear link between what you eat and the severity of psoriasis symptoms

Q: Can I get more information?

A: Yes. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA) produces a range of information covering various topics on both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Contact us for more information.

Q: How is psoriasis diagnosed?

A: Psoriasis is diagnosed by an examination of the skin and the symptoms you describe to your healthcare provider. In some cases, a biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Q: Will my psoriasis get worse?

A: Psoriasis does vary. You will get flare-ups when your condition is worse than at other times. Although we cannot be certain, stress seems to make psoriasis worse in many people. Life events like a bereavement or exams can make psoriasis worse. Try to avoid stress whenever possible. With a good treatment regime you will soon have your psoriasis under control again. Do go back to your doctor if you feel the treatment you have been given is not working well for you. There might be other options you could try. You will not be wasting your doctor’s time; he or she is happy to help you manage your skin condition in the best way.

Q: What age does psoriasis occur?

A: It can appear at any age in varying degrees but usually between the ages of 10 and 30, but can occur at any age from infancy to old age

Q: What are the different treatments for psoriasis?

A: Although psoriasis is a chronic long term condition with no cure, it can be controlled and go into remission (go away). Not all people will be affected in the same way and doctors will class the condition as mild, moderate or severe. On this site you will find all the different treatments that you may be offered.

Q: How do you treat psoriasis in sensitive areas?

A: Skin in some areas of the body is thinner and here it may be more sensitive to treatment. These areas can include the face, the hairline, the flexures – in skin folds, armpits, under the breasts, between the buttocks and in the groin. As with all psoriasis it is important that you use a mosturiser or emollient to make the skin more comfortable. Topical Vitamin D creams and ointments are very effective and the newer types are less likely to cause irritation. Topical steroid creams may be recommended for sensitive areas however it is important that they are not used for long periods of time without close supervision from your doctor or healthcare provider.

Q: Can I use deodorants if I have psoriasis under my armpits?

A: Deodorants can sometimes aggravate psoriasis in the armpits or trigger a flare-up. This is because of the chemicals in them that can irritate the skin. There are deodorants designed for sensitive skin (sometimes referred to as hypoallergenic) and they contain less of the chemicals that can cause irritation and they may also contain emollients to help moisturise your skin.

Q: What is the difference between plaque psoriasis and pustular (palmar-plantar pusulosis) psoriasis?

A: The main distinguishing feature of pustular psoriasis is the appearance of pus spots surrounded by red skin. Pustular psoriasis tends to go in cycles of erythema (reddening of the skin) followed by the formation of pustules and scaling of the skin.

Q: Will the sun help my psoriasis?

A: Those who have psoriasis find that the sun helps to improve their skin’s appearance. For some the change is dramatic, with red scaly patches almost disappearing altogether during summer months in a warm climate. Because ultraviolet light is so effective for so many with psoriasis, it is often used in various artificial forms by doctors. Ultraviolet treatment with a sun lamp is often given in hospitals for plaque psoriasis (the most common type) and guttate psoriasis. In severe cases of psoriasis, dermatologists may use a treatment known as PUVA – P for psoralens plus UVA. Psoralens are chemicals found in certain plants which make the skin respond to UVA, the least dangerous form of UV light.

Q: How can I stop itching my psoriasis?

A: The easiest way to control itching in psoriasis is by keeping the skin moisturized. Dry skin can aggravate the itchiness associated with psoriasis

Q: Can I go swimming?

A: Psoriasis is not contagious so there is no reason why you should not swim because of your psoriasis. The chlorine in a swimming pool may dry out your skin, so it is a good idea to shower as soon as possible to remove the chlorine and then apply a good moisturiser.

Q: Will vitamins help/aggravate my psoriasis?

A: There is no medical evidence that taking vitamins will either help or aggravate your psoriasis. If you have adequate vitamin nutrition in your diet taking supplementary vitamins should not be necessary.

Q: What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

A: Psoriatic Arthritis (also known as PsA) is a form of joint inflammation affecting people with the skin disorder psoriasis.

Q: How is PsA different from other types of arthritis?

A: There are several features that distinguish PsA from other forms of arthritis which can include any or some of the following:

  • Particular patterns of joints that may be involved.
  • One pattern of inflammation is usually in the end joints of fingers, often corresponding with the fingers that have psoriatic nail involvement.
  • Involvement of the joints of the spine and sacroiliac joints which is called spondylitis.
  • Neck pain and stiffness.
  • An entire toe or finger can become swollen or inflamed.
  • A tendency for joints to stiffen up and sometimes fuse together.
  • The absence of rheumatoid factor in the blood.

Q: What is the treatment for PsA?
There are now many treatment options available to people with psoriatic arthritis, some options will have to meet certain criteria before being offered, but there are many to be tried and tailor-made to the patient’s needs.

  • The treatments range from:

  • Mild painkillers; if aches and pains are mild enough.
  • Steroid (cortisone) injections; these reduce inflammation and swelling and are sometimes offered if one or two joints/ tendons are troublesome and can bring some short-term relief.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs; these help to reduce pain and swelling of joints and allieviate stiffness that can occur.
  • Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs known as DMARDs – these drugs aim to prevent psoriatic arthritis from getting worse, and can take up to six months before you may notice any significant change.
  • Biological treatments; these are a new concept in treating both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Before these are offered, there are set criteria to be met and in most cases will not be offered until other avenues of treatments have been tried. It is early days for biological therapies, so discuss these treatment options carefully with your doctors, making sure you know all the possible side-effects before embarking on these options.
  • Exercise (under medical supervision) the affected joints and muscles which have stiffened.
  • Dietary supplements such as evening primrose oil and certain fish oils are of variable effect.

Q: What causes PsA?

A: You cannot catch arthritis or psoriasis. Psoriasis can be provoked by sore throats and it is possible that germs may provoke joint inflammation and flare ups of psoriatic arthritis. Trauma and stress may be contributing factors, although this is not proven. Psoriatic Arthritis is not hereditary but there is a genetic contribution.

Q: Can I get more information?

A: Yes. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA) produces a range of information covering various topics on both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Contact us for more information.


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