What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a dry, scaly skin disorder. Doctors believe that it is genetic and is caused by the immune system being mistakenly “triggered”, resulting in skin cells being produced too quickly. Normally, skin cells take about 21-28 days to replace themselves. However, in patients with psoriasis they take around 2-6 days. Psoriasis affects approximately 3% of people globally and usually develops in patients between age 11 and age 45. Despite the fact that it is not a contagious disorder, people with the condition can sometimes suffer from social exclusion and discrimination.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Normally there is a constant shedding of dead cells. However, due to the acceleration of the replacement process, both dead and live cells accumulate on the skin surface. Often this causes red, flaky, crusty patches covered with silvery scales, which are shed easily.
Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body although it is most commonly found on the elbows, knees, lower back and the scalp. It can also cause intense itching and burning.
Who is at Risk?
Psoriasis affects approximately 3% of people globally. It can start at any age, but most often develops between the ages of 11 and 45, often at puberty.
The condition is not contagious and most people have only small patches of their body affected.
There is a genetic link and it tends to run in families. About 30% of people with one first degree relative with psoriasis develop the condition.
This genetic tendency appears to need to be triggered by infection; certain medicines, including ibuprofen and lithium; psychological factors, including stress; or skin trauma.
There is no way of predicting who will develop psoriasis. 50-60% of people who first experience it do not know of anyone else in their family who has had it.