Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease affecting up to 1.8 million people in the UK.
The condition recently made headlines when Kim Kardashian-West, who was diagnosed with psoriasis back in 2010, revealed on her website that she doesn’t try to cover it anymore.
“Sometimes I just feel like it’s my big flaw and everyone knows about it, so why cover it?” she wrote. “I’m always hoping for a cure, of course, but in the meantime I’m learning to just accept it as part of who I am.”
For those who think they may suffer from psoriasis but are yet to be diagnosed, we spoke to experts about what the symptoms are plus effective treatment options.
What Is Psoriasis?
“Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease which leaves the skin looking red and scaly,” says Lisa Bickerstaffe, spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation.
The condition, which can occur at any age, can be caused from a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers such as stress, certain medicines or infection.
It occurs when skin cells are replaced more quickly than usual, which researchers believe is caused by a problem with the immune system.
According to the Psoriasis Association, some people with the condition may also get psoriatic arthritis. This affects joints, such as the knees or those in the hands and feet, as well as areas where tendons join to bone, such as the heel and lower back.
However it’s worth noting that not everyone who suffers from the skin disease will go on to develop joint pain.
Psoriasis is typically characterised by patches of skin that are dry, red and covered in silver scales, reads the NHS website.
There are different types of psoriasis, the most common of which is called plaque psoriasis - accounting for roughly 80% of cases.
Symptoms of this type of psoriasis are dry, red skin lesions covered in silver scales which normally appear on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
The plaques can be itchy, sore or both and, in severe cases, the skin around joints may crack and bleed.
Most cases of psoriasis go through cycles, causing problems for a few weeks or months before easing or stopping.
There isn’t a cure for psoriasis, however it can be treated and managed.
The condition affects people differently and therefore a treatment that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
“Because of this, treating psoriasis can be a process of trial and error, and it can be frustrating,” says the Psoriasis Association.
According to The British Skin Foundation, psoriasis can be managed with topical creams and ointments, UVB light therapy and systematic medicines.
In more severe cases, biologic injectable drugs are used.
Psoriasis And Self Esteem
“Due to the nature of the plaques that appear on the skin, people with psoriasis sometimes suffer from low self-esteem and lack of confidence as they worry about how others perceive the condition,” says Bickerstaffe.
However with people like Kim Kardashian-West and Cara Delevingne speaking out about the condition, plus photo projects like #GetYourSkinOut, stigma is slowly being reduced.
“It’s great that Kim Kardashian and other celebs like Cara Delevingne don’t hide away their psoriasis,” says Bickerstaffe.
“This is showing people everywhere - including young women - that there’s no need to be ashamed of skin conditions and that they can happen to anyone.”