What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that normally causes flaky red, raised patches covered with scales that are often referred to as plaques when on the skin. The plaques normally appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back, but they can appear anywhere including the hands and feet and even the nails can be affected. The affected areas are often itchy and painful. Psoriasis affects about 1 in 50 people and men and women suffer in equal amounts. It can start at any age but it’s most usual for first signs to appear at under 35 years old.
What are the symptoms?
The severity of symptoms can vary a great deal from person to person but it usually comes and goes in phases, worsening and causing problems for a few weeks or months and then improving or disappearing altogether for a while. For some people, psoriasis is a minor irritation whilst for other people it can be a huge problem seriously affecting their life because of the extent of the irritation, complications that can come with bad cases and embarrassment at the appearance of the skin. Such complications include cracking and bleeding of the skin and infections in the skin. About 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis where joints become swollen, painful and stiff. If you think you have psoriasis you should always see your GP.
Once you haveconsulted our pharmacist, we can offer convenient access to prescription strength Psoriasis medication.
What Medicines are available to treat Psoriasis?
At Redwood Pharmacy, our pharmacists are trained to give a range of treatments for scalp psoriasis. Some of which is normally ‘prescription only’, if deemed appropriate by the pharmacist.
A number of non-prescription preparations are available to buy to manage mild to moderate Psoriasis, including moisturising creams and ointments (emollients) and oils that can be added to bath water. These ease the itching and scaling of psoriasis and hydrate the skin. Products containing coal tar to be applied to the skin have been used for many years and these can also be purchased without a prescription; they are thought to work by reducing the rate of skin cell production and treating inflammation, but they are not suitable for everyone so it’s important to read the product warnings before use. For many people with mild symptoms, these will be all that is needed to manage the condition.
Other stronger options are available on prescription, including steroids such as Betnovate, Eumovate and Diprosone, and preparations that contain calcipotriol such as Dovonex. Calcipotriol is related to vitamin D and slows down the underlying process of rapid skin cell turnover. It is used alone or with anti-inflammatory steroids to reduce the skin irritation and inflammation.
Dovobet contains both a steroid and calcipotriol and is the treatment of choice for many sufferers of Psoriasis.