Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects roughly one in every fifty UK citizens according to the official NHS statistics. However, despite this, it gained little to no media coverage, leaving a significant number of people largely uninformed about symptoms of psoriasis, its causes as well as treatment options available.
As a consequence, many will not recognise their condition. And those which don’t have a habit of regular check-ups and consultations with the doctor can left the condition untreated, allowing it to progress further and cause significant stress and discomfort.
But, even those which are familiar with the details of their condition can feel ashamed and rather closed about it. So, we felt that there are many reasons to cover the details of this condition – both to provide information to those that have been recently diagnosed and also to those whose friends or family members might be affected and in need of support.
What’s on this page?
At which age psoriasis manifests?
Psoriasis is a chronic condition which means that it will go through periods of remission and exacerbation and cannot be truly cured. This makes it different from other skin conditions such as eczema which, especially when manifested in childhood, will improve with time, eventually completely disappearing in a certain percentage of cases.
Psoriasis has generally later age of onset, but can theoretically appear at any point in a person’s life. However, around 75% of documented cases are in people aged 35 and over, with the usual age of onset of first symptoms around 20th year of age. While psoriasis goes through somewhat unpredictable cycles of remission and recurrence, people aged between 55 and 60 are most likely to experience highly pronounced symptoms.
Despite the statistics, it doesn’t mean that it cannot affect younger people. According to some studies, as much as one third of those affected noticed the first symptoms before 16 years of life.
What are psoriasis symptoms?
People without prior history of skin conditions can find it difficult to recognise the symptoms of psoriasis. Early stages of the condition can be especially easy confused for minor irritations and thus remain undiagnosed by a doctor. But, for a more experienced eye, symptoms of psoriasis are easily recognisable and can be distinguished from other skin conditions fairly easily.
Psoriasis initially appears in the form of pink or bright red coloured areas on the skin covered by silvery-white scales which become more prominent as the condition progresses. The scales, known as plaques, can appear anywhere, but in a majority of cases, they are localised to certain body parts:
It can also be differentiated from other skin conditions such as eczema because it cannot be linked to asthma or an allergic reaction. So, psoriasis is not a seasonal condition.
What are psoriasis triggers?
Despite not being related to allergies, psoriasis can go into flare-up due to exposure to certain triggers. While people affected by this condition claim that they can identify various substances that act on them similarly to allergens, medical experts largely agree that it would be more precise to talk about interaction of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers with some of the most common being:
- Streptococcal tonsillitis
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Certain medications
Despite these common triggers, psoriasis is unique to each individual and just because certain substances cause a flare up in one individual, it doesn’t mean that they will affect others in the same manner.
How frequent are psoriasis flare-ups?
People affected by psoriasis are usually most interested in learning when and how often will they experience flare-ups. But, sadly, the research conducted into the condition has only shown that there is ‘average’ value when it comes to frequency of flare-ups. This will vary greatly among individuals and the same is true for the duration of the symptoms. For most, the flare-ups will be limited and will disappear on their own within couple of weeks even without any treatment. Many of those affected argue that unpredictability of the condition is contributing greatly to the overall frustration.
How is psoriasis treated?
Finding the psoriasis treatment that work for you often involves a process of trial and error before the optimal medication (or the combination of medications) is finally chosen. Luckily there is a number of treatment options available on the modern market, so most people will eventually find the treatment that suits them.
In the UK, the medical experts developed a so-called treatment hierarchy which those affected by psoriasis will go through. This term involves an organisation of various treatments, starting from the topical treatments and progressing towards other types of greater intensity. Those seeking treatment will usually get prescribed some of the lower-intensity medications, with subsequent changes to treatment (if needed) will tend to be of progressively greater strength, including some unconventional treatment such as UV rays phototherapy.
Psoriasis over-the-counter remedies
While most psoriasis treatments are prescription-only medications, there are certain over-the-counter (OTC) remedies that you can buy without a prescription. These are usually focused on providing relief from dryness, itching and cracking of the skin, contributing to its softening. Aside from providing relief from the subjectively experienced discomfort, these remedies will also facilitate better absorption of other prescription psoriasis treatments. This is why medical experts will often recommend applying moisturisers and emollients roughly half an hour before applying your prescription treatment.
Psoriasis treatment perspectives and developments
As of now, psoriasis still cannot be completely cured, but it can be successfully managed in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with the everyday activities nor cause constant discomfort. Of course, living with psoriasis will still be challenging, but some innovations in treatment methods taking place now might be able to help even more in the future.
The advances in the biologic medications for severe psoriasis can now cause significant improvements with fewer side effects and with every new psoriasis medication, the more we know about the condition. So, while the cure still isn’t discovered, modern medical science is certainly moving in that direction.