Six Important Facts to Know About Psoriasis

1. It’s an immune response gone wrong. A type of white blood cell that normally fights foreign invaders starts attacking healthy skin cells.

2. The condition isn’t caused by poor hygiene, nor is it contagious.

3. Certain triggers can cause a flare-up. These include stress, an injury, drinking too much, smoking, menopause and some medicines.

4. There are different types of psoriasis. While most people get scaly patches on their knees, elbows or torso, it can also affect fingernails, scalp and even genitals.

5. Psoriasis has no cure, but many treatments can bring partial or complete symptom relief (see box, right).

6. A new drug is being touted as a ‘miracle’ treatment. Trials of ixekizumab found that it brought improvement in 90% of cases.

Easing Discomfort

There are various ways to minimise symptoms and boost skin healing. Try these steps:

  • Avoid harsh soap Try to do without soap altogether, and wash most areas simply with warm – never hot – water.
  • Choose fabrics with care Natural fibres such as cotton and silk allow your skin to breathe. Avoid wool, which can scratch and irritate. Use detergents that are non-biological and unperfumed when washing clothes, towels and bed linen.
  • Seek expert advice Ask your GP to refer you to a dermatologist, who may prescribe a topical medication for the skin (such as salicylic acid) or phototherapy (therapy using light).

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