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Understanding and treating Psoriasis

It’s psoriasis awareness month, so we’re taking a closer look at this condition which affects around 2 million people in the UK. Here we’re going to explore exactly what psoriasis is, learn how it’s treated and the steps you can take to help manage its symptoms.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition where skin cells are replaced quicker than usual. It causes patches of skin to become red, crusty and flaky. The skin has the appearance of silvery scales. For most people, the patches of affected skin are small but they can become itchy and sore.

It affects both men and women equally. It can start at any age but most commonly develops in under 35 year olds.

A patch of affected psoriasis skin

What treatments are available for psoriasis?

Unfortunately there’s currently no known cure for psoriasis. That’s one of the reasons psoriasis awareness month has been set up. As well as generally raising awareness for those living with the condition, it also supports research into potential treatments.

The good news is that there are already a number of treatments available to help manage the symptoms of psoriasis, in people who have been diagnosed with the condition. They can be split into 3 different categories:

  1. Topical preparations. Steroid creams, emollients and ointments, applied to the skin, help to relieve the symptoms. Some of these can be purchased from our sister company, ChemistDirect.co.uk. Prescription-only treatments can be prescribed by your doctor, if appropriate. Other prescription creams are available that either contain coal tar, vitamin D analogues, or medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system.
  2. Phototherapy. When the skin is exposed to certain types of UV light, this can slow down the production of new skin cells and relieve the underlying issue of this condition. This is a specialist therapy, provided by hospitals or dermatologists, and is not the same as using a sunbed or sunbathing.
  3. Systemic. Oral and injected medicines such as methotrexate, ciclosporin, and acitretin work throughout the body to reduce inflammation or reduce the production of new skin cells. These are only available on prescription and will require regular monitoring as they are very powerful medicines.

Choosing the best treatment is based on the severity of your psoriasis. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan and your pharmacist can help you with information about the preparations available.. Once a regime is established, the plan will need to be reviewed regularly to ensure your treatment is still right for you.

Tips for living with psoriasis

  • Look after yourself. Self-care is an important part of living with psoriasis. This means eating well, exercising and ensuring you maintain the treatment regime agreed with your doctor.
  • Book regular treatment reviews with your doctor. They can adjust your treatment plan if deemed necessary.
  • Save on treatment costs with an NHS prepayment certificate (PPC). Psoriasis is an ongoing condition which requires regular treatment on an ongoing basis. If you pay for your prescriptions then a PPC is a great way to save money. You pay a set price for either 3 or 12 months which covers all the prescriptions you’ll need. Learn more, here.

To find out more about psoriasis, check out the NHS website pages on the condition here.