A-Z encyclopaedia

Printer-friendly version

Click the letter link below to go each section



Abnormalities: A condition that differs from the normal physical or mental state.

Achilles Tendon: Is the tendon that joinis the calf muscles to the bone in the heel.
It is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. In an adult the achilles tendon it is approximately 15cm long.

Acute: A disease with a rapid onset and/or a short course as opposed to Chronic which is a persistent and lasting disease or medical condition or one that has developed slowly

Acute Phase Protein is a protein produced in the liver which increases during inflammation, e.g., C reactive protein

Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into the skin at particular points on the body, to prevent or treat ill health or maintain good health.
This procedure is thought to stimulate the body’s ability to heal.

Adherence is when a patient follows their advised treatment programme

Adolescent: A youth in their teenage years (see Tips for teenagers)

Adolescence: The period in development between the onset of puberty and adulthood. It usually begins between 11 and 13 years of age with the appearance of secondary sex characteristics and spans the teen years terminating at 18 to 20 years of age with the completion of the development of adulthood.

Aetiology Is the part of medical science dealing with causes of disease.

Albumin is a blood protein which falls in severe inflammation, malnutrition and some kinds of kidney disease.

The Alexander Technique can be used to help you to identify and prevent the harmful postural habits that aggravate, or may be the cause of, stress and or pain.

Alkaline Phosphatase liver enzyme monitored in patients who are taking methotrexate or azathioprine

Allergies and allergic reactions are an over reaction by the immune system to certain substances. In non allergic people these substances are seen as harmless but in allergic people the substance is mistakenly identified as foreign and part of the immune system is turned on which in turn causes symptoms rather than protection. The most common site for allergic reactions is the skin. Uncomplicated reactions can be treated with an antihistamine drug which blocks the effects of histamine on the skin.

Anabolic steroids are drugs that resemble male hormones such as testosterone . Athletes sometimes take them to try and increase their weight, strength, speed and endurance.

Anaemia is when there is a decrease of haemoglobin in the blood to levels below the normal range. Anaemia may be caused by a decrease in red cell production, an increase in red cell destruction, or a loss of blood.

Analysis tools: There are number of ways psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are assessed by doctors and healthcare providers, these include:

  • The psoriasis area and severity index (PASI)
  • The dermatology life quality index (DLQI)
  • The disability index of health assessment questionnaire (HAQ)
  • The nail psoriasis severity index (NAPSI)
  • The short form 36 health survey (SF-36)

The use of these and other assessment tools help guide treatment decisions and can show whether a treatment is working (showing benefit).

The Anti-Malarial drug called Chloroquine is a known aggravator of psoriasis. Consult your Doctor or healthcare provider before travelling.

Antibody: An antibody is a protein produced by immune system cells that binds to antigens on foreign particles/bodies allowing other elements of the immune system to attack, destroy or remove them

Anticoagulant is a substance that prevents or delays coagulation of the blood.

Antigens are the fingerprints detected by the immune system that are found on every potentially harmful organism that enters the body.

The Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA) test is a sensitive screening test used to detect autoimmune diseases. Antinuclear Antibody (ANAs) are found in people whose immune system may be predisposed to cause inflammation against their own body tissues.

Antipruritic: Pertaining to a substance or procedure that tends to relieve or prevent itching.

Aromatherapy is the use of plant oils for preventative care, healing and general well-being. Essential oils can be used in different ways, including massage, bathing and inhalation. When essential oils are inhaled, the part of the brain that is connected to smell is stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the emotional centre of the brain.

Arthralgia is a pain in a joint.

Arthropathy (pronounced as ar throp ath e) - Any disease affecting a joint such as arthritis.

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to inspect and treat problems inside a joint, allowing a surgeon to look inside a joint to determine what is wrong. The procedure is carried out using an arthroscope, which is a narrow tube with a light source attached to a small video camera, this enters via a small incision in the skin (keyhole) and then transmits pictures back to a TV monitor.

Aspiration is to take or aspirate a joint by taking fluid out of a joint with a needle attached to a syringe.

AST is a liver enzyme - see alkaline phosphatase

Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India.It emphasises creating balance in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise, and body cleansing, and on the health of the mind, body, and spirit.

Ayurvedic medicine is a complementary therapy system which involves detoxification, diet, exercise, the use of herbs and other techniques to improve mental and emotional health.

Top of page


Bacteria are small cells that can cause diseases such as sore throats, tonsillitis, ear infections, etc although not all bacteria are bad. Good bacterial live in the intestines and help to use the nutrients in the food we eat and help to make waste from what is left over.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD)is the professional organisation for Trainee, Consultant and Non-Consultant Career Grade (NCCG) dermatologists in the UK and Eire. Established in 1920, it is a registered charity with an incorporated body of trustees, the Executive Committee, who are all dermatologists elected by the membership. The Officers, supported by the professional staff carry out the day to day business from Willan House, the headquarters building in central London.

Bakers Cyst:  A swelling behind the knee which contains fluid, common in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and sometimes psoriatic arthritis.

Biological therapy: Drugs made from natural proteins using biotechnology

Biotechnology  is the use of recombinant DNA, cell fusion, and new bioprocessing techniques applied to research and product development.

Birthmarks (Naevus): Birthmarks are darker and sometimes coloured patches on the skin that are either present at birth, or develop very soon afterwards the most common of which is known as the “strawberry” birthmark. Most birthmarks are harmless and don't need any treatment. However, occasionally there are medical reasons that mean it's necessary for the birthmark to be treated. You may also wish to have treatment for cosmetic reasons.

Blackheads: are caused by dried plugs of fatty material in the ducts of the sebaceous (oil secreting) glands of the skin causing a black colour at the surface of the plugs. Blackheads should never be squeezed as this increases the risk of infection.

Blepharitis is a crusty scaling of the eyelid which can be fairly common in children.

Blisters are the outpouring of fluid under the outer layer of the skin as a result of local damage. They can often be caused by friction on tender skin (on the hands from unusual physical work or on the feet by ill fitting shoes) by heat (as in burns and scalds) and also by irritating chemicals. Blisters should be kept clean to avoid infection.

Boils are painful red swellings in the skin caused by a bacterial infection of a hair follicle or sweat gland. They are contagious via the pus (bacterial) and therefore if left untreated could develop into further boils or in extreme cases to blood poisoning.

Bowen therapy involves a series of detailed gentle moves combined with rest periods, which are performed over a period of up to one hour. The goal is to cause a reset of the body systems and reinvigorate the body’s self-healing processes.

The British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) head office is based in London is a registered charity. Its principal activity is to advance knowledge of arthritis and other muscoloskeletal conditions.

Burns: Damage caused to the skin by either dry or wet heat. The severity of burns is assessed by the amount of skin that is damaged.

  • First degree burns cause reddening of the skin and affect the top layer of the skin only
  • Second degree burns cause the formation of blisters
  • Third degree burns destroy the full skin thickness leaving the area looking white or charred.

Bursa is a fibrous sac between certain tendons and the bones beneath them.

Top of page


C-REACTIVE PROTEIN (CRP)  is a protein produced in the liver which rises in quantity in the blood when there is active Inflammation. In psoriatic arthritis pain may be present with some swelling in a number of small joints without this showing an abnormal result. Increased -when there is active involvement of large joints or widespread bone erosion

Camouflage: A way of hiding things by making them look like part of the surrounding area. Call the British Red Cross too see if they have a cosmetic and camouflage service in your area.

Carbuncle: Carbuncles are large boils with multiple openings which usually appear where the skin is thick in particular the back of the neck. They can reach the size of an apple and cause severe pain, fever and general feeling of being unwell.

Cardiovascular: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular disease: Any abnormal condition characterised by dysfunction of the heart and blood vessels.

Cataracts are normally associated with older people when the lens clouds over preventing light from reaching the retina. In younger people they can result from an injury, taking certain medication, long-standing inflammation, or illnesses such as diabetes.

Cell: An organism that contains all the genetic information required to make a life form

Chilblains appear as hot, red, swollen patches of itchy skin on toes, feet, fingers and hands after exposure to extreme cold and/or moisture. Normally they will go of their own accord after a few days but occasionally they can become chronic causing discoloration of the skin and painful blisters containing blood stained fluid followed by ulceration.

Chinese Herbal Medicine is an integrated system of primary healthcare that also utilises herbal medicine, massage, exercise and diet.
Based on the concepts of yin and yang, the tradition holds that energy known as qi (pronounced chee) or “life energy” flows through the body’s meridians (a network of invisible channels through the body). If the flow of qi in the meridians becomes blocked or there is an inadequate supply of qi, then the body goes out of balance and fails to maintain harmony and order, and disease or illness follows.This can result from stress, overwork, poor diet and environmental conditions.

Chiropodist: A healthcare professional who diagnoses and treats disorders of the feet is known as a Chiropodist. Podiatrists (podiatry) and chiropodists (chiropody) complete a 4 year postgraduate educational program leading to a degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine The main use of Chiropractic is for musculoskeletal disorders such as neck, shoulder or other joint problems, spine and posture problems, as well as muscle problems, sciatica, RSI, sports injuries and it can also be useful in the treatment of migraine.

Chiropractic is concerned with mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the nervous system and health in general.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in the body by the liver.There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL. Most cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is more likely to clog blood vessels because it carries the cholesterol away from the liver into the bloodstream, where it can stick to the blood vessels. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, on the other hand, carries the cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down.

Chronic: A persistent and lasting disease or medical condition or one that has developed slowly. As apposed to acute, which is a disease with a rapid onset and/or a short course.

Citrullin Antibodies is a new and very specific test for rheumatoid arthritis

Climatotherapy: Sunlight can have a beneficial effect on psoriasis. Climatotherapy has been used in the Dead Sea, Israel, for many years.
Because of its position at the lowest point on earth and the haze of minerals in the atmosphere over the Dead Sea, burning rays of short wavelength UVB light are filtered out, allowing more exposure to longer wavelength therapeutic UVB rays.

Clinical trial: Investigational studies of new treatments, new uses of existing treatments, and new screening methods to detect disease.

Cluster: To form a small group

Coal tar bath: Coal tar solution is added to bath water for great coverage and penetration, used to treat the scaling, inflammation and itching of psoriasis and other skin disorders

Coeliac disease is a rare condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and certain other cereals).

Cognitive: Pertaining to the mental processes of comprehension, judgment, memory, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional processes.

Colour therapy:  Uses coloured rooms, light bulbs and other methods to impart mental and spiritual balance.Therapists can provide recommendations for incorporating certain colours into one's home, wardrobe and other places to promote health and healing.

Combination Therapies. Sometimes clinicians will prescribe a product containing one or more active ingredients with different functions. This may be in order to simplify the number of treatments being applied at any one time or because the agents combined together have been shown to act better than when used independently.

Complementary therapies: A variety of treatments, outside the scope of conventional medical practice, and used alongside standard treatments for example herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy, shiatsu etc

Compliance is much the same as adherence – whether a patient carries out what they are advised.

A Condom is a flexible sheath that covers the penis and prevents semen from entering the vagina in sexual intercourse and is used to prevent transmission of an infection and conception.

Contagious: Spread by direct or indirect contact between people (Non-Contagious: incapable of being transmitted from person to person)

Contraception:The word given to a process or technique for preventing pregnancy by means of a medication, device, or method that blocks or alters one or more of the processes of reproduction in such a way that sexual union can occur without impregnation.

Contract Research Organisation: Carries out the research on behalf of a pharmaceutical company.

Costochondritis is an inflammation and tenderness of the cartilage that attaches the front of the ribs to the breastbone. The worst pain is normally between the breast and the upper abdomen and is often more noticeable when sitting or laying down. Stress may aggravate this condition. Any of the costochondral junctions may be affected, and more often than not more than one site is involved. The inflammation can involve cartilage areas on both sides of the sternum, but more often than not is on one side only. Costochondritis should be distinguished from Tietze Syndrome, which is an inflammation involving the same area of the chest, but also includes swelling.

Counselling is a process where clients are helped in dealing with their personal and interpersonal conflicts by a third party therapist.

Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of treatment, which involves a health practitioner applying very light touch to the body (usually no greater than 5 grams) to evaluate and enhance the functioning of a body system called the craniosacral system.

Creams are an emulsion of oil and water whipped together.They are well absorbed, less greasy

Creatinine Clearance Test is a test which is done on a 24 hour urine sample and a blood sample as a measure of kidney function.

Crystal Therapy: The aim of this type of therapy is to restore wholeness, balance and health on levels of emotions, mind, spirit as well as the physical body.

CTIMP: Clinical trial of an investigational medicinal product.

Cyclosporin: A prescription drug that decreases the body's immune response, used in the treatment of psoriasis

Cysts: A sac or pouch within the body, which is usually filled with fluid

Cytokine: Messengers that carry biochemical signals to regulate local and systemic immune responses, inflammatory reactions, wound healing, formation of blood cells, and any other biological processes. In psoriasis, cytokines carry messages that promote overly rapid development of skin cells

Top of page


Deformity: A condition of being distorted, disfigured, flawed, malformed, or misshapen, which may affect the body in general or any part of it.

A Dentist is a person trained to treat, fill and extract teeth.

Dermatitis: Is an inflammation of the skin which can be as a result of an infection or a substance that has come into contact with the skin. Classified as acute, sub-acute or chronic depending on the severity.

Dermatologist: A physician specialising in disorders of the skin

Dermatology: the study of the skin, including its anatomic, physiologic, and pathologic characteristics and the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders.

The Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) is a simple ten point questionnaire, which is used for more than 30 different skin conditions. It is the most frequently used questionnaire in controlled trials in dermatology.

The ten questions include the following areas:

  • Symptoms and feelings
  • Daily activities
  • Leisure
  • Work and school
  • Personal relationships
  • Treatment

These are assigned a score and once added together give a total DLQI.

Dermatomyositis: Inflammation of the muscles normally accompanied by a rash over the eyelids, cheeks, chest and knuckles. Muscles become weak, stiff and painful and the skin over these muscles feels thicker than normal. There may also be bouts of nausea, weight loss and fever.

Dermis:  the deep layer of skin.

Detatched Retinas are rare but sight-threatening. They occur when the retina becomes separated from the underlying tissue.

Dexa Scan: Is the best measurement of bone mineral density. Inflammatory spondylitis found in some patients with arthropathy may be accompanied by reduced bone density in the vertebrae particularly.

Disability: The loss, absence, or impairment of physical and or mental fitness.

Disease is an unhealthy condition or illness.

Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) If a patient has persistent inflammation in several joints for longer than six weeks then the doctor might prescribe a medication called a Disease Modifying anti-rheumatic Drug or DMARD (pronounced DeeMard). They are usually prescribed in addition to anti-inflammatory NSAIDs as the NSAID is designed to reduce the day-to-day inflammation and the DMARD slows down the biological processes that cause the persistent inflammation.

DNA - antibodies to DNA are the most specific and reliable test for the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus and are rarely found in psoriatic arthropathy whereas the screening test for anti-nuclear antibody is occasionally found positive but usually has no significance

Top of page


Effusion: The name given to the collection of fluid in a joint.

The electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) contains up to date, easily accessible information about medicines licensed for use in the UK. The eMC has more than 7,000 documents, all of which have been checked and approved by either the UK or European government agencies which license medicines. These agencies are the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

Emollients soothe,smooth and hydrate the skin and are indicated for all dry or scaling disorders. Their effects are short-lived and they should be applied frequently even after improvement occurs.

ENA: Antibodies to extractable nuclear antigens are looked for in patients with connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and are helpful in predicting which organs are likely to be affected and indicating a more specific diagnostic category

Enthesopathy is a condition that affects the entheses such as inflammation of the entheses. The entheses are sites of tendinous or ligamentous attachment to the bone. Enthesopathy may be due to an inflammatory condition such as psoriatic arthritis or a condition due to injury or overload such as plantar fasciitis.

Enthesis: The junction between bone and ligament or bone and muscles

Enthesitis: Inflammation of this junction is commonly found in psoriatic arthritis

Enthesopathy is a condition that affects the entheses such as inflammation of the entheses.The entheses are sites of tendinous or ligamentous attachment to the bone. Enthesopathy may be due to an inflammatory condition such as psoriatic arthritis or a condition due to injury or overload such as plantar fasciitis.

Epidermis: the outer layer of skin.

Erythema: Redness of the skin which is caused by congestion of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) near the surface.The blood vessels may become dilated and congested with blood as the result of many different factors.

Erythroderma: An abnormal reddening, flaking and thickening of the skin, affecting a wide area of the body.

Erythrodermic: Intense scaling and inflammation of the skin.

Erythrodermic psoriasis: Psoriasis characterised by severe redness, scaling and shedding of the skin.

ESR: Traditional test for inflammation - not specific for arthritis and may be normal despite it.

Ethics committee: Make decision on if research is justified and that it is carried out in a manner which is deemed appropriate.

Exanthema: A skin eruption which occurs as a symptom of an acute viral disease, as in scarlet fever or measles.

Exercise:The performance of any physical activity for the purpose of condition the body, improving health, or maintaining fitness or as a means of therapy for correcting a deformity or restoring the organs and body functions to a sate of health. An action skill or manoeuvre that causes muscle exertion and is performed repeatedly to developer strengthen the body or any of its parts. To use a muscle or part of the body in a repetitive way to maintain or develop its strength.

Exfoliation: Removing dead cells from the skin’s surface.

Top of page


Facet Joints: The small joints extending throughout the spine which slide up and down in movement and a source of pain when inflamed

Fatigue: A condition marked by extreme tiredness and inability to function due lack of energy. Fatigue may be acute or chronic

Fever (from the Latin word febris) is a term used to describe a body temperature above the normal average of 37oC (98.6oF) It is one of the body’s defence mechanisms against bacterial and viral infection.Early symptoms include a feeling of heat and discomfort, flushed skin, increased pulse and respiration and sometimes insomnia. The most effective drug to control fever is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprufen.

Flexures: The areas where the limbs bend, bringing together two surfaces, for example, the front of the elbows and the back of the knees.

Flower Therapy is a form of energy medicine using extracts of flowers that can be used in conjunction with traditional counselling. It offers an alternative treatment for daily stress, mild to moderate mood concerns, fears and anxieties and other emotional issues.

Flu (influenza) is a viral infection of the respiratory tract although symptoms are normally present elsewhere in the body. It is transmitted through droplets from infected people either during coughing, sneezing and also speaking. There is normally an incubation period of up to four days before the symptoms appear.
Symptoms vary but can include some or all of the following. Fever, chills, cough, stuffiness, runny nose, sore throat, aches and pains all over the body, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness and depression.As flu is a viral infection there is no specific drug treatment but bed rest and simple analgesics may help. Recovery periods are normally within a week.

Folic Acid - is given to patients on methotrexate, as it reduces the likelihood of mouth ulcers and blood count abnormalities.

A Follicle is a pore in the skin from which hair grows

Folliculitis: Inflammation of the hair follicles of the skin or the scalp usually caused by bacterial infection.

Frostbite: A condition caused by the direct effect of freezing on the tissues, made worse by the lack of blood to the area. The skin firstly takes on a pallid colour which progresses to a reddish violet and finally to black as the tissue dies

Fumaric acid esters (FAE) are chemical compounds derived from the unsaturated dicarbonic acid fumaric acid and have been used in treatment of psoriasis since 1950s.Side effects include flushing of the skin. Tolerance is limited by gastrointestinal issues.

Top of page


GAMMA GT: Blood test for a protein made in the liver, particularly sensitive to alcohol overuse, but found in other causes of liver dysfunction. Patients with high results are not safe to take methotrexate without careful evaluation.

Gene: The material that forms the biologic code for all life forms.

A General Practitioner (GP) is a healthcare professional who treats all kinds of illnesses and health related problems. He or she is the first doctor that people would see when they are ill.This is also known as primary care.

Generic or Non-proprietary : products that are in the public domain and anyone can produce or distribute. These poducts are not protected by trademark or patent or copyright.

Genital: The sex, or reproductive organs visible on the outside of the body. Also known as the genitalia.

A Germ is a tiny organism that can cause diseases

Glaucoma: Is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. Untreated glaucoma leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve which can progress to blindness.

Glucose: The sugar found in the blood which the brain and the muscles use as fuel. Too high in diabetes, too low in diabetics given too much insulin

Glucose Tolerance Test: Test involving taking a dose of glucose followed by a series of blood tests to see how much has appeared in the blood over a period of hours and used to confirm diagnosis of diabetes.Useful in patients on long-term steroid treatment.

Glycated Haemoglobin: A test done on blood in diabetes to check on long term control.

The Goeckerman regimen: Patients with severe or disabling psoriasis may go to hospital or psoriasis treatment centres for concentrated treatment with UVB and topical coal tar. This is known as the Goeckerman regimen and usually takes at least three or four weeks of daily treatment.

Gold (sodium aurothiomalate) injections (intramuscular) are sometimes used since 1930s to reduce the inflammation in joints and decrease pain, swelling and stiffness in psoriatic arthritis.

GRAPPA (Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis) is organised exclusively for non-profit, educational, and scientific purposes, specifically to facilitate sharing of information related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, networking among different medical disciplines that see psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients and to enhance research, diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Grenz ray: Involves exposing the skin to low-energy, non-penetrative electromagnetic radiation. It is used in inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis as an option if other therapies have failed. There a number of studies that have looked at this therapy. The largest included 5739 patients, of which 24% of all psoriasis patients had been treated with Grenz rays.There is divided opinion on the use of the therapy and in the UK, it has been suggested that it no longer has a place in the treatment pathway as newer therapies have superseded it.

Guttate A term that is used to describe lesions on the skin that are shaped like drops of water.

Guttate psoriasis: Psoriasis characterised by red, drop-like dots on the skin

Top of page


Headache: The most common type of headache is the tension headache which is caused by contractions of the muscles of the back of the neck and the scalp. The headache is relieved when the muscle contractions cease. This can be helped along by taking an analgesics such as paracetamol. Headaches can also follow from a head injury caused either because of the tenderness at the point of injury or because of the contraction of muscles around it. These types of headaches are known as vascular or delusional headaches.Headaches are also associated with high blood pressure (hypertension).

Healthcare professionals is a term used for a person who is qualified to provide health care to others.It includes general practitioners (GPs), physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists, chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapist, podiatrist, chiropodist, optometrists, paramedics, dentist, and a wide variety of other individuals regulated and/or licensed to provide some type of health care

Helper T-cells: Cells that travel through the blood looking for antigens, when one is encountered they trigger other immune cells to attack.

Herbal medicine: Herbal medicine is where a pharmaceutical preparation contains at least one active ingredient extracted from plant sources

Western Herbal Medicine is a treatment system based on the idea that plant-based medicines can be used in their natural form to help the body while it heals. Herbalists use the whole plant products in teas, oils, creams, or ((ointments ))to address many different conditions. Many herbalists believe that whole plant medicines are generally gentler than some other kinds of treatments, and may be safer for use in some instances.

Hereditary: Pertaining to a characteristic, condition, or disease transmitted from parent to offspring; inborn; inherited

Herpes: A highly infectious virus which causes crusted sores most commonly around the lips and mouth (cold sores) and the genitals. It begins with itching of the skin followed by redness and swelling which turn to fragile blisters which rupture to excude a sticky fluid which rapidly crusts over.

Hives (Urticaria): A skin eruption or red and white raised patches on the skin similar to that caused by nettles.The patches cause great irritation and are normally seen on the trunk and on the face.

HLA B27 (Human Leukocyte Antigen B27) is associated with a certain set of autoimmune diseases including psoriatic arthritis.

  • A blood test is often carried to establish a diagnosis particularly in ankylosing spondylitis.
  • In ankylosing spondylitis (AS). 90% of patients will have a positive test for HLA B27.
  • In psoriatic arthritis (PsA) 20% of patients will have a positive test for HLA B27.
  • 50% of HLA B27 positive tests will have spinal disease (spondylopathy)
  • 7% percent of the general population have the HLA-B27 gene

Homoeopathy (sometimes spelt homeopathy) is a system of medicine founded by Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the 18th Century. It is based on the theory that diseases are curable by those drugs which produce effects on the body similar to symptoms caused by the disease. (similia similibus antur).

Hormones: A complex chemical substance produced in one part or organ of the body that initiates or regulates the activity of an organ or a group of cells in another part.

Housemaids knee or bursitis, is an inflammatory condition of the bursa in front of the knee cap, often mistaken for joint disease.

Hydrotherapy is supervised exercise in a warm pool. The physiotherapist uses the properties of water to help ease stiff joints and strengthen weak muscles. Hydrotherapy may include continuous tub baths, wet sheet packs or shower sprays.

Hyperkeratosis: Thickening of the nail.

Hyperostosis: Means abnormal excessive growth of bone.

Hypertension: A term meaning blood pressure that is above the normal range

Hypnotherapy is the use of a state of relaxation varying from very light to deep and is used for treating such conditions as addictions, anxiety, depression, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, phobias and stress.

Hypoglycaemia: Low blood sugar

Top of page


Ichthyosis: A hereditary condition which is characterized by thick scale and very dry skin. Mild cases may pass off as dry skin, but in severe cases the skin looks like fish skin or alligator hide. The dry, scaly skin is usually most severe over the legs but may also involve the arms, hands, and middle of the body. Persons with this condition may also have many fine lines over the palm of the hand.

The term ichthyotherapy is when a wound or condition is cleansed by the use of fresh water or marine organisms such as a fish. In psoriasis the most common scenario is the use of the Doctor Fish of Kangal found in the fresh water springs of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Immune system: The biochemical complex that protects the body against infections and other foreign bodies that lead to illness

Immunomodulatory drugs: Drugs that alter the function of the immune system.

IMP: Investigational medicinal product is the name of a new medicine in development.IMP: Investigational medicinal product is the name of a new medicine in development.

Impetigo: Is a skin infection caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes. Impetigo causes spots containing pus (pustules) that become crusty yellow sores. It often occurs on the face around the mouth and nose. It can be treated with antibiotic creams or tablets.

An Infection is the invasion of the body by pathogenic organisms and their subsequent multiplication with this body.

Inflammation: Reaction by tissue, for example skin, in response to infection or injury, usually involving reddening and swelling.

The Information Standard scheme was developed by the Department of Health to help the public identify trustworthy health and social care information easily. At the heart of the scheme is the standard itself – a set of criteria that defines good quality health or social care information and the methods needed to produce it. To achieve the standard, organisations have to show that their processes and systems produce information that is:

  • accurate
  • impartial
  • balanced
  • evidence-based
  • accessible
  • well-written.

The assessment of information producers is provided by independent certification bodies accredited by The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Organisations that meet The Standard can place the quality mark on their information materials and their website - a reliable symbol of quality and assurance. PAPAA became a Certified Member of the Information Standard in April 2011.

Informed consent:The process by which a volunteer for a clinical trial agrees to participate after being fully informed regarding purposes of the trial, risks and benefits associated with participation in the trial, and whether volunteers will be randomised to receive treatment or placebo.

Injection: The act of forcing a liquid into the body by means of a needle and syringe.

Insomnia: Sleep problems characteristically association with difficulty falling asleep and frequently waking during the night.

Insulin: It acts by enabling the muscles and other tissues which require sugar for their actvity to take up this substance from the blood.The lack of insulin or the inability to produce enough insulin is found in people with diabetes.

Intercurrent  illnesses: Different disease or co-morbility .

The International Psoriasis Council (IPC): Is a global organisation founded in August 2004. IPC has created programs, events, and materials that have provided a forum for psoriasis experts and health professionals to share knowledge, experiences, and insights toward optimising understanding and treatment of psoriasis.

Interphalangeal: Any of the joints between the phalanges of the fingers or toes.

Intertrigo: Inflammation and chafing of the skin caused by two surfaces rubbing together. Normally occurs on the inner thighs, armpits, underside of the breasts, folds of the abdomen and between fingers and toe. There may also be scales and blisters and the affected skin may have an odour.

Intravenous infusion: Technique of giving medicine such as Infliximab

Inverse psoriasis: Psoriasis characterised by smooth, inflamed lesions in body folds.

Iridology is the analysis of patterns and structures in the iris of the eye which locates areas and stages of inflammation throughout the body. It reveals body structure, inborn strengths and weaknesses, health levels, and changes that take place in a person's body according to their way of life.

Top of page


Jaundice: A yellow discolouration of the skin, mucous membranes, and the eyes caused by greater than normal amounts of bilirubin in the blood. Because people with dark skin sometimes have yellow tinged sclera the hard palate of the mouth is often the best place to assess for jaundice. People with jaundice may experience nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and may pass dark urine and clay coloured stools.

Joint is the meeting-place between different parts of the skeleton.

Joint inflammation: A condition in which a becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.

Top of page


Keratinocyte: A type of skin cell making up over 95% of the epidermis, accelerated growth of these cells leads to the development of psoriasis lesions.

Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea (the transparent front layer of the eye).

Keratolytic: An agent that promotes the shedding of the epidermis at regular intervals.

Keratosis: A skin condition where patches of rough skin appear on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. It is sometimes also known as keratosis pilaris or 'chicken skin'

Killer T-cells: Cells in the immune system that actively target and destroy cells perceived as foreign.

Kinesiology uses simple, safe, precise muscle testing procedures to find problem areas, to get to the cause of the problem and not just deal with the symptoms of a problem. Kinesiology uses massage, nutrition, energy reflexes, and counselling to balance holistically.

Koebner’s phenomenon: Psoriatic lesions that appear at the site of injury, infection or other skin problem.

Top of page


Latex Test - very sensitive, but not very specific test for rheumatoid factor in the serum

Latin prescription abbreviations: What abbreviations mean on your prescription

  • a. c. = ante cibum (before food)  
  • b. d. = bis die (twice daily)  
  • o. d. = omni die (every day)  
  • o. m. = omni mane (every morning)  
  • o. n. = omni nocte (every night) 
  • p. c. = post cibum (after food)  
  • p. r. n. = pro re nata (when required)  
  • q. d. s. = quater die sumendum (to be taken four times daily)  
  • q. q. h. = quarta quaque hora (every four hours)  
  • stat = immediately  
  • t. d. s. = ter die sumendum (to be taken three times daily)  
  • t.i.d. = ter in die (three times daily)

Lesions: A wound or injury to the skin, for example, a patch of skin affected by psoriasis.

Leucocytes: A type of white blood cell involved in the immune system. White blood cells increased during infection. In psoriatic joint effusions leucocytes, rather than lymphocytes, show a particular increase in numbers. In rheumatoid arthritis lymphocytes usually predominate. In the blood lymphocytes are often found to be reduced in patients on immunosuppressive forms of treatment.

Ligament: One of many white shiny flexible bands of fibrous tissue binding joints together and connecting various bones and cartilages.

A Likert scale is usually based on 5 points or questions with 1 = the best and 5 = the worst.
A common example is:

  • 1 = Strongly agree
  • 2 = Agree
  • 3 = Neither agree or disagree
  • 4 = Disagree
  • 5 = Strongly disagree

Sometimes a 4 point scale is used which is called a ‘forced choice’ and misses the middle point, therefore giving either agreement of disagreement.

Linear IgA disease: A very itchy rash with annular grouped vesicles. Histology shows a subepidermal blister and immuniofluorescene shows a linear band of IgA at the basement membrane.

Lotions or solutions are liquids that are easier to use on large areas of skin, especially where there is hair. Lotions also have a cooling effect.

Lumbago: A generalised term used to describe ailments affecting the muscles of the lower back.

Lung Fibrosis: A rare complication of treatment with methotrexate predominantly in elderly women.

Top of page


Macrocytes: Red blood cells of increased size. May be found in patients treated with azathioprine, methotrexate or sulfasalazine.

Macrophage: Cells that destroy foreign antigens and initiate T-cell formation, also called an ‘antigen-presenting cell’.

Magnatherapy: Is an alternative form of treatment for the relief of pain. High density magnets draw fresh blood to the affected area which in turn stimulates blood flow which carries away toxic materials which cause the pain. This not only brings great relief from the pain but also speeds up the healing process.

The Mantoux test (or Mantoux screening test or Heaf test ) is skin test for tuberculosis. Until 2005 to determine if the Bacillus of Calmette and Guérin (BCG) vaccine was needed. Patients who exhibit a negative reaction to the test may be offered BCG vaccination.Patients being offered biological treatments for psoriasis are recommended to have a Mantoux test. If they fit the criteria laid down in the British Association of Dermatologists guidelines for use of biological interventions in psoriasis. For the treatment of arthritis as recomended in Assessing, managing and monitoring biologic therapies for inflammatory arthritis Guidance for rheumatology Practitioners.

Massage or rubbing; is where, the surface of the body is rubbed, kneaded or pressed in order to stimulate the skin or deeper tissue with the use of fingers, hands or other equipment or appliances. Different types of massage can be gentle stroking to soothe (such as applying topical treatments) or vigorous methods to stimulate the circulation of blood.

Melaena or melena means a condition where the stools (faeces) are dark or black, due to bleeding from the stomach or higher part of the bowel.

Melanoma: Is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that make melanin, which gives skin its color. When people spend time in the sunlight, the melanocytes make more melanin and cause the skin to tan. If the skin receives too much sunlight, the melanocytes may begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous. This condition is called melanoma.The first sign of melanoma is often a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole. But melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole.

Metatarsophangeol is sometimes called "pencil in cup". A characteristic radiographic feature of PsA. Other features include joint erosions, joint space narrowing, bony proliferation including periarticular and shaft periostitis, osteolysis including deformity and acro-osteolysis, ankylosis, spur formation, and spondylitis.

Methotrexate: An agent prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis.

MHRA: Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority the body who regulate licensing of drugs used in humans.

Moisturisers make the skin much more comfortable – they decrease the dryness, scaling cracking and soreness and itching. They allow other active treatments (eg tar, vitamin D) to work more effectively.

Moles: A blemish on the skin which maybe present at birth or may develop over time. Moles are made up of clusters of nevus cells which contain the pigment melanin. They can be small or large, flat or raised, smooth, hairy or warty. They vary in colour from yellowish brown to black.

Monoclonal antibody (MAb): Antibodies created with biotechnology techniques in laboratories that are highly specific and ‘recognise’ and target only one molecule, such as a receptor, or antigen.

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging - uses magnetic fields and radio signals to compose images of body slice by slice without using x-rays.

Mucous: The viscous, slippery secretions of mucous membranes and glands containing mucin, white blood cells, water, inorganic salts and exfoliated cells.

A multidisciplinary team is a group of people each using their own specialised skills but working together as a team.

Muscle is tissue that by its virtue has power of contraction.

Musculoskeletal is a term relating to the bones and/or the muscles.

Top of page


Naturopathy is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors try to find the cause of disease by understanding the patients body, mind, and spirit. Most naturopathic doctors use a wide variety of therapies and techniques (such as nutrition, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, and acupuncture.

NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

Non-contagious: Incapable of being transmitted from person to person.

Non proprietary or generic products that are in the public domain and anyone can produce or distribute. These poducts are not protected by trademark or patent or copyright.

NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Numbness: Loss of sensation in fingers, eg, in carpal tunnel syndrome, in toes in sciatica or generally in peripheral neuropathy and other neurological diseases. Seen occasionally as a drug side-effect.

A Nurse is a healthcare professional who is trained to care for the sick.

A Nutrient is something that provides nourishment for an organism to live. There are six main types: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Nutritional therapy is a system of healing based on the idea that food provides the medicine we need to obtain and maintain a healthy state. In other words our food is our medicine and our medicine is our food. Many disorders, ranging from fatigue, energy loss, insomnia and depression, to backache, skin complaints, asthma, and headaches can be relieved effectively with nutritional therapy.

Top of page


Obesity: The word obesity means being so overweight that it's bad for your health.

An Occupational Therapist works as part of a multidisciplinary team. They either work for the health service or for social services. The two services work slightly differently but occupational therapists are all concerned with promoting a persons independence in very tasks to give the best quality of life.

Ointments are greasy and tend to stay on the surface of the skin. Some contain substances that help them mix with water so they wash off more easily.

OMERACT stands for Outcome Measures in Rheumatology. It is an informal international network of working groups and gatherings interested in outcome measurement across the spectrum of rheumatology intervention studies. The Patient Liaison Group co-ordinates the participation of patients in the OMERACT Working Groups. OMERACT highly encourages the input of patient perspectives into all research groups. OMERACT holds Consensus Conferences every 2 years in various parts of the world.

Onycholysis: A severe form of the psoriatic nail dystrophy where the nail becomes detached from the underlying nail bed and a gap develops under the nail.When it starts there is a white or yellowish patch at the tip of the nail, and this then extends down to the cuticle.

Onychomycosis: A chronic but painless fungal infection of the nail caused by a number of fungal species.

Optimum: The best. The most favourable.

An Optometrist is concerned with examining the eyes, testing sight, giving advice on visual problems, and prescribing and dispensing spectacles or contact lenses. Optometrists are also trained to recognise eye diseases.

Oral: Preparations taken orally are taken by mouth whereas topical application of medicine is applied to the skin.

Organism: Is any living thing whether plant or animal.

Osteitis means inflammation of the bone.

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment, usually by manipulation, that focuses on musculoskeletal problems. Osteopaths believe that the problem lies with an impairment of blood supply.

Osteopaths use their hands both to diagnose and to treat abnormalities in the way the body is working.

OTC is the abbreviation for Over The Counter (non prescription) which appears on licensed medicines. These are generally purchased at a pharmacy without a prescription as oppossed to POM (Prescription only medicine).

Top of page


P is the abbreviation for Pharmacy which appears on licensed medicines. These are only available from or dispensed by a Pharmacist.

Paediatrician: A physician who specialises in the development and care of infants and children and in the treatment of their diseases.

Paediatric: Pertaining to preventive and primary health care and treatment of children and the study of childhood diseases.

Papillioma: A benign tumour which resembles a wart and is normally found on the skin and in the membranes that line the intestinal and urinary tracts.

Parakeratosis: The process by which psoriatic skin cells continuously form and move upward to the skin surface faster than they can be incorporated into the skin, resulting in them scaling off.

A Paramedic is a person trained to assist medical professionals and to give emergency medical treatment normally outside a hospital setting.

Parapsoriasis: Cutaneous skin disease that looks similar to psoriasis (hence para meaning near or similar to), but isn’t psoriasis. Scaly plaques may be evident.

Pastes: Ointments in which powder is suspended.

PCG: Primary Care Group

PCT: Primary Care Trust

PDI: Psoriasis Disability Index

Periarthritis is when inflammation is near to or outside of a joint.

Petechiae: Red and purple spots on the skin approximately the size of a pinhead. They are formed by the escape of blood into the skin.

Phalanges Is the name given to the bones that are found in the fingers or toes.

Pharmaceutical company: These are commercial companies who research and develop drugs which are used to treat conditions in humans.

A Pharmacist is a healthcare professional who is trained to prepare medicines.

Phototherapy: Treatment with artificial ultraviolet light

Photo-chemotherapy: when light therapy and drug therapy are used in combination Patients with psoriasis that does not respond to or is too widespread for topical treatments are candidates for phototherapy. This involves exposing the skin to wavelengths of UV light, which has a therapeutic benefit in psoriasis. Phototherapy is a standard treatment for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis who have not responded to topical therapies.

A Physician is a healthcare professional who is not a surgeon.

Physiotherapy: The treatment of disorders with physical agents and methods such as massage, manipulation, therapeutic exercises, cold, heat, hydrotherapy and light.

PIL: Product Information Leaflet is required to be included in any medicine package and contains information about what the product is for, dosages and side effects etc.

Pitting: Small, punctuate indentations in fingernails or toenails often as a result of psoriasis.

Placebo: An inactive drug with no medicinal value, used as method of ‘control’ in clinical trials.

Plantar fasciitis means inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue (similar to a ligament) that stretches from the heel to the middle bones of the foot.

Plaque: A flattish, raised, scaly patch on the skin more than 2 cm across and formed by psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis: Psoriasis characterised by red, silvery-white, scaly skin lesions, accounting for about 80 percent of all cases.

Platelets: Are the smallest cells in the blood formed in the red bone marrow and some are stored in the spleen.

A Podiatrist (sometimes known as a chiropodist) is someone who cares for the feet.

POM is the abbreviation for Prescription Only Medicine which appears on licensed medicines. These are generally prescribed by a doctor or similarly qualified individual, and cannot be bought legally in the UK without a prescription.

A Pore is a small opening in the skin allowing moisture to pass in or out.

Prurigo: A chronic inflammatory eruption of the skin which is normally accompanied by small whitish spots and severe itching.

Pruritus: Itching of the skin around the anus or the vulva.

The PsARC is the only measure developed specifically for people with psoriatic arthritis.

The PsARC comprises:

  • A patient global self-assessment on a 0–5 Likert scale
  • A physician global assessment on a 0–5 Likert scale, with improvement defined as a decrease by at least 1 unit, and worsening defined as an increase by at least 1 unit
  • A tender joint score
  • A swollen joint score with improvement defined as a decrease of at least 30%, and worsening defined as an increase of at least 30%.

A PsARC response is defined as an improvement in at least two of the four measures, one of which must be the joint tenderness or swelling score, with no worsening in any of the four measures.The PsARC does not include an assessment of psoriasis.

Psoriatic arthritis - a genetically driven autoimmune disease affecting large and small joints that occurs in less than 10 percent of psoriasis patients

Protocol: Set of rules to be followed.

A Psychologist is someone who has made a special study of psychology.

Psychology is they study of the mind and how it works.

Pustular: Pus filled lesions and intense scaling

Pustular Psoriasis: Psoriasis characterised by pus-like blisters on the skin usually occuring on the hands or feet.

Pustulosis is an inflammatory skin condition typically on the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet. With large fluid-filled blisters (pustules). The skin of these areas peels and flakes (exfoliates).

PUVA is a form of photochemotherapy which combines a photosensitizing medication (psoralen) with long wave ultraviolet A light UVA which is known as PUVA. On its own UVA light is usually too week to be an effective treatment in psoriasis, however, when combined with a photosensitiser it becomes very effective for psoriasis and several other skin conditions.

Top of page


Quality-adjusted life year (QALY). An index of survival that is adjusted to account for patient's quality of life during this time.

Qualitative research is used to help us understand how people feel and why they feel as they do. It is concerned with collecting in-depth information asking questions such as why do you say that?. Samples tend to be smaller compared with quantitaive projects that include much larger samples. Depth interviews or group discussions are two common methods used for collecting qualitative information.

Quantitative research is used to measure how many people feel, think or act in a particular way. These surveys tend to include large samples - anything from 50 to any number of interviews. Structured questionnaires are usually used incorporating mainly closed questions - questions with set responses. There are various vehicles used for collecting quantitative information but the most common are on-street or telephone interviews.

Queen Test: Quality question devised by a distinguished hospital architect and pioneer of operational research in hospitals.The question is: If we were doing this for the Queen, is this how we would do it.

Top of page


Radionics is a technique of healing using extrasensory perception (e.s.p.). It is not directed at the physical body so much as at the energy fields around it. The patient can be with the practitioner or many miles away - distance is irrelevant.

Rash: A group of spots or an area of red, inflamed and normally itchy skin which can be localised in one part of the body or involve extensive areas.

Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition where the blood vessels that supply blood to the skin narrow reducing blood flow to the hands.

Reactive arthritis is caused by bacteria travelling through the body to the joints between bones.

Rebound: Recovery from illness.

Receptor: Structures on the surface of cells that serve as docking sites for other cells or signalling molecules to relay information or trigger a reaction.

Reflexology maps out the reflexes on the hands and feet to all the organs and the rest of the body. By applying acupressure and massage-like techniques to these reflex points, the related body parts are positively affected, and blood, nerve and lymphatic systems are rejuvenated thus improving supply.

Reiki incorporates elements of other alternative healing practices such as spiritual healing, aromatherapy, auras, crystals, chakra balancing, homoeopathy, meditation and naturopathy. It involves the transfer of energy from practitioner to patient to improve the body’s natural ability to heal itself through the balancing of energy.

Remission - the period during which the symptoms of a disease decrease or subside

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is used to describe a range of painful conditions of the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.

Retinoids: Vitamin A derivatives used in the prevention and treatment of various skin problems.

A Retrospective study looks back and considers the vulnerability to potentional risks or safety factors in respect of the result that is demonstrated at the beginning of the study.

Rheumatism: Is a general term applied to a group of diseases, which affect joints, muscles and other parts.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition which causes pain, swelling and inflammation in the joints.

Rheumatologist: a specialist in the treatment of disorders of the connective tissue

Rheumatology: The study of disorders characterised by inflammation, degeneration, or metabolic derangement of connective tissue and related structures of the body. These disorders are sometimes referred to collectively as rheumatism.

Ringworm (Tinea): A group of fungus infections of the skin, hair, toenails and fingernails. Ringworm usually causes reddened and scaly patches on the skin, which form in an irregular ring shape with a slightly raised edge. The patches may be very itchy.

Rodent Ulcer: A chronic ulcer arising from a tumour normally present on the face or nose of elderly people.

Rosacea: A chronic disease where the skin is coloured red or pink as a result of the dilation of tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin normally on the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin.

Top of page


Sacroiliac: Pertaining to the part of the skeletal system that includes the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis.

Sacroiliitis: Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint.

Sacrum: The composite bone at the base of the spine, forming the back of the pelvis.

Salicylic acid is a chemical that helps remove scale on lesions. This then allows topical medications to better penetrate the skin.

SAPHO (Syndrome Acne-Pustulosis-Hyperostosis-Osteitis).

Scabies: A skin infection caused by the infestation of mites which burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. The burrowing causes intense itching.

Scales: Thin flakes on the skin surface.

Scleritis or 'hot eye' is sometimes associated in people with inflammatory arthritis, the symptoms are an inflammation of the white outer coating of the eye known as the sclera.Treatment with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, are used for pain relief. Corticosteroids (oral) and an eye solutions are used to treat scleritis. Antibiotics may be prescribed as well. Using standard eye drops will not treat the condition.

Scleroderma: A rare disease which produces hardening of the skin which becomes smooth, shiny and tight. The skin of the face may shrink so much that it becomes difficult to open the mouth fully.

Sebaceous Cyst: A term used for large, smooth modules under the skin which are most commonly found on the scalp, face, ear and genitals. The cyst contains a smooth yellow cheesy material.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis or seborrhoea are names given to a group of diseases of the skin, in which the sebaceous oil-forming glands are at fault.

Shake lotions: A combination of a powder and liquid that must be shaken before being applied to the skin.

Shiatsu: A Japanese method of massage using gentle finger pressure rather than needles. This Oriental therapy which combines finger pressure on acupuncture points with gentle mobilisation of joints works by enhancing the flow of vital energy through the body.

Shiatsu: A Japanese method of massage using gentle finger pressure rather than needles. This Oriental therapy which combines finger pressure on acupuncture points with gentle mobilisation of joints works by enhancing the flow of vital energy through the body.

Side effects: These are adverse events which could happen whilst taking a particular drug and are generally listed following reporting during a trial or after a drug has been in use in the general population as often they are not discovered until that stage.

Specialist doctors: A doctor who specialises in a particular disease such as psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis often based in a hospital.

Splint: An orthopedic device for immobilization, restraint, or support of any part of the body. It may be rigid (of metal, plaster or wood) or flexible (of felt or leather).

Spondylitis (spon dil i tis) Inflammation of vertebrae (spine).

Spondylopathy: Any diseased or deformed state of the vertebrae (spine).

The Stainsby procedure is an operation which is used to salvage toes which have developed into a claw deformity. The operation is often for toes which have fused or are in a fixed position and therefore cause pain. The aim is to release the bones by the reposition of the plantar plate under the metatarsal head. Afterwards the toe may look shorter, but pain can be improved.

Streptococcal infections: an infection caused by bacteria. Almost any organ of the body can be involved.

Steroid - an abbreviated word for corticosteroids, which are powerful drugs used to control inflammation and itching of the skin. Very often this is shortened to ‘steroids’ causing people to confuse their skin treatments with the anabolic steroids used for body-building

Stress: any emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factor that requires a response or change.

Stroke: An area of the brain is deprived of its blood supply - most commonly caused by a blockage (Ischaemic stroke) or burst blood vessel (Haemorrhagic stroke). A transient ischaemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a 'mini-stroke' is when some brain function is temporarily lost because of a short-lived disruption of the blood supply.

A Stye is the inflammation of one of the glands at the edge of the eyelid.

Subcutaneous: beneath the skin.

A Surgeon is a healthcare professional who treats people by cutting or repairing parts of the body.

Syndrome: Is a term applied to a group of symptoms occuurring together regularly, such as SAPHO Syndrome.

Synovial Membrane: The connective-tissue membrane that lines the cavity of a synovial joint and produces the synovial fluid. Also called synovium.

Synovitis: Inflammation of a joint.

Synthetic: Pertaining to a substance that is produced by an artificial rather than a natural process or material.

Systemic: Referring to the body as a whole

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a progressive and potentially serious disease. It can affect nearly every organ in the body. Among the complications that may be seen are inflammation of the membrane lining the heart and the smooth membranous sac enveloping the heart, pleurisy, kidney lesions and disorders of the central nervous system and skin rash.

Systemic therapy: Drugs that affect the whole body.

Top of page


T-cells: Cells that either initiate the immune response (helper T-cells) or actively
target and destroy cells perceived as foreign (killer T-cells)

T-cell receptors: Molecules on the surface of T-cells that are the sites for macrophages
to ‘pre- sent’ antigens to the T-cell and trigger an immune response.

Technetium: A man-made radio-active element used in isotope scans.

Telangiectasia: An increase in the size of blood vessels beneath the skin causing redness and an appearance of broken veins. Most commonly found on the nose and cheeks.

T-lymphocytes: A type of white blood cell within the immune system

Temporal arteritis is the inflammation and damage to blood vessels that supply the head area. When the inflammation affects the arteries in the neck, upper body and arms, it is called giant cell arteritis. In approximately 1 in 4 cases the disorder may be present with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Other diseases related with temporal arteritis are systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and severe infections.

Tendons: Any one of many white, glistening bands of dense fibrous connective tissue that attach muscle to bone.

Thrombocytopaenia: A reduced number of platelets in the blood. This may be a cause of bruising or bleeding and is a potential side-effect from a number of treatments, hence the need for regular blood monitoring.

Tietze Syndrome is an inflammation of the costochondral cartilages of the upper front of the chest. Patients with Tietze syndrome develop tenderness and swelling over the ribs and cartilage near the breast bone Swelling, redness, tenderness, and heat can be present. The pain can vary and is often confused with heart pain, and can last from hours to weeks. It can cause difficulty with sleeping and even rolling over in bed is sometimes painful. Blood testing can show signs of inflammation in patients with Tietze syndrome, whereas blood tests on patients with costochondritis alone typically have normal tests for inflammation.

Tissue: A collection of similar cells acting together to perform a particular function

Topical application of medicine is applied to the skin whereas preparations for oral use are taken by mouth

Topical Analgesics are creams for the treatment of mild to moderate pain caused by arthritis. These are usually only available on prescription.

Topical Corticosteroids suppress the inflammatory reaction during use; they are not curative and on discontinuation a rebound exacerbation of the condition may occur. They are generally used to relieve symptoms and suppress signs of the disorder when other measures such as emollients are ineffective.

Toxin:: A poisonous substance, especially one found in the body by germs.


  1. Physical injury caused by violent or disruptive action or by the introduction into the body of a toxic substance.
  2. Physic injury resulting from a severe emotional shock.

Trigger: An environmental factor that acts together with genetic predisposition to cause the onset or worsening of psoriasis

Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) - a protein in the body involved in inflammatory processes that also damages tissue in and around the joints of people with psoriatic arthritis.

Top of page


The UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network (UK DCTN) was formed in February 2002 with the aim of conducting high quality, multi-centre clinical trials that answer questions of importance to clinicians and patients. It involves a collaborative network of dermatologists, dermatology nurses, health services researchers and patients throughout the UK and Southern Ireland.

Ultrasound - this is used both in diagnosis and treatment. High resolution ultrasound equipment has an increasing role in the diagnosis of rheumatic disorders and its value as a treatment tends currently to be underestimated in the UK.

Ultraviolet light (UV) - the part of light that can be used to treat psoriasis but can also
cause sunburn.

  • UV-A - Ultraviolet light with wavelengths ranging from 320 to 400 nm
  • UV-B - Ultraviolet light with wavelengths ranging from 290 to 320 nm

Top of page


Vasculitis: Inflammation of blood vessels, a feature of some rheumatic diseases but not psoriatic arthritis.

A Virus is a microscopic particle that can infect the cells of a biological organism. Viruses can replicate themselves only by infecting a host cell. They therefore cannot reproduce on their own.

Vitamin D analogues should not be confused with vitamin tablets or liquids that you may take as dietary supplements. Whilst their chemical structure may be based on a vitamin D3 molecule they have been modified to have a completely different effect.

Vitiligo: Light coloured blotches which appear on the skin or hair as a result of the absence of the pigment melanin, the presence of which gives the skin its colour.

Vulgaris: Is latin for common and used for the most widespread plaque version, called psoriasis vulgaris.

Top of page


Warts: Common highly contagious but harmless growths on the skin as a result of a virus infection.

Wax and wane:To come and go, often how psoriasis patients decribe an acute flare or relapse.

White blood cell: Are the cells of the immune system that defend the body against infectious diseases.

Top of page


X Rays: Discovered in 1896 by Professor Röntgen. The main disadvantage of x-ray is the radiation risk. Other techniques of imaging employed are ultrasound or MRI scans, but x-rays are considered useful in specific situations. D

Top of page


Yellowish patch or onycholysis – this is where the nail becomes detached from the underlying nail bed and a gap develops under the nail.When it starts there is a white or yellowish patch at the tip of the nail, and this then extends down to the cuticle.

Yoga is a holistic system for promoting homoeostasis at physical, mental and emotional levels. When this balance is disturbed by illness, or the stress created by illness, yoga can help restore it, and help cure or manage the illness.

Top of page


Zygoma is the name given to the cheek bone.

Top of page

Resources | About Psoriasis | Psoriasis Treatments | About Psoriatic Arthritis | Psoriatic ArthritisTreatments | Articles | Further informationImage Gallery | Downloads | A-Z encyclopaedia | Other Diseases | Skin ‘n’ Bones Connection | References | Misspell | FAQs