Psoriasis usually starts off as red areas of skin, perhaps 1 to 2 cm wide, with a slightly raised, dry and flaky surface. It most often affects knees, elbows, lower back and around the hairline, but it can appear anywhere. It may be a little itchy, especially if the scalp is affected, but is not usually painful.
Psoriasis is a common condition affecting 2% of the population, and most people are only affected by small areas of redness, so-called small plaque psoriasis. This is a long-term condition, and if left untreated, plaques may increase in size and thickness and spread to other areas, and a silvery scale can appear over the areas of redness.
Some people are concerned with the appearance, and large thickened areas are more difficult to treat. Psoriasis can take several weeks or months of treatment to recover, and it may be persistent or recur. It can also affect the nails.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It may run in the family, and rarely can go with other conditions affecting the gut, joints, back and eyes.
Pharmacy-based treatment for psoriasis aims to moisturise the skin and improve the appearance of dry, flaky patches. Emollients (medical grade moisturisers) are available from your pharmacist, and can soften skin to help other treatment creams to work - it can also relieve any itch.
In addition to emollients, coal tar containing treatments such as 'Polytar' or 'Alphosyl' can help slow the rapid growth of skin cells and thus reduce the scaly raised lesions and restore the skin's appearance, as well as reducing itching and inflammation.
The downside of these products is that they can have a strong odour due to the coal tar, and may also stain clothing they come into contact with.
Yes you are fit for work if you have psoriasis.
Alongside good moisturisers, other creams and ointments will also need to be prescribed - we would suggest booking a routine appointment with your doctor to discuss treatments. These include steroids and vitamin D-type creams.
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