What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune condition that causes symptoms on the skin (and also on the joints for about a third of psoriasis sufferers).

There is currently no cure for psoriasis but there are various treatments that can help you manage flare-ups.

People with psoriasis are super speedy at replacing skin – my body will take a couple of days to make skin cells while a normal person will take about 3/4 weeks to do this. This causes a build of skin cells, creating plaques on the skin which are often very flaky, scaly or itchy. These plaques can be different colours on different skin tones; my skin is quite pale and my psoriasis is bright red but darker skin tones can have darker-coloured patches.

You can get psoriasis nearly anywhere on your body! I’m pretty much dotted head-to-toe but other people can just suffer from a specific type of psoriasis on a specific area. I have plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, nail psoriasis and also inverse psoriasis which is what happens in sensitive folds of skin like under your armpits (the patches aren’t dry and flakey like plaque psoriasis but smoother and shiny).

The Science-y Bit!

According to the most recent research, psoriasis is a result of immune cells in the immune system called T cells being triggered and becoming overactive. The T cells acts as if they are healing your skin and end up producing inflammatory chemicals that cause the speedy production of skin cells.

This is why psoriasis is called an auto-immune disease. What triggers the T cells in the first place is still unknown, although it does run in some families. Psoriasis flare-ups can themselves be triggered by a number of factors, such as stress and anxiety, skin injuries, medications or illnesses.

Psoriasis is NOT a contagious infection – you can’t catch it off anyone like chicken pox or shingles.

Psoriasis affects around 2-3% of the UK which would be approx. 1.8 million people. Psoriasis can happen to anyone at any age.

The effects of psoriasis are not just skin deep. Psoriasis sufferers (like other visible skin conditions and differences) are likely to find that this negatively affects their mental health, self-esteem and confidence which can in turn, take its toll on their social, work and personal lives. Psoriasis can crack, flake, bleed and catch on clothing so depending on the location of the patches, it can make certain activities tricky – going for a shower can be agonising for some while bending knees can be painful for others.

There a variety of treatments available to help people manage their psoriasis ranging from topical treatments to light therapy to other harsher medications. The journey to finding a treatment that works best for you can be a long one but the psoriasis community and Blotch are there to help you along the way.

If you need support coping with your psoriasis and can’t talk to anyone around you, the Psoriasis Association has a great forum as well as a new WhatsApp helpline (available Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm) which you can reach out to by messaging 07387716439.

Reference: Psoriasis Association – Psoriasis and Treatments

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