What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease affecting the layers of the skin. Psoriasis speeds up the creation of new skin cells from 28-30 days, to 3-4 days. By speeding up this process, psoriasis doesn’t allow older skin cells to be shed properly, creating a build-up of excess skin cells at the surface of the skin. This build-up of skin cells results in raised, red, scaly patches of skin called lesions. Psoriasis commonly manifests on the surface of your scalp, knees, elbows, and torso, but can be experienced all over the body. Based on the most current research and data, psoriasis is now understood as a non-contagious, chronic inflammatory auto immune whole life disease that manifests in the skin, joints and associated complications.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Signs and symptoms of psoriasis to look out for are:
- Red, scaly patches of skin
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itching, burning, or soreness of skin
- Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
- Soreness or stiffening of joints (because of psoriasis’ association with arthritis)
Additionally, triggers for psoriasis outbreaks or flares often include: cold or dry climate, infections, stress, certain medications, and skin injuries.
What should I do when symptoms appear?
Seek the advice of your family physician. They may refer you to see a Dermatologist, a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders. Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis, but there are effective treatment options for Canadians. Many patients diagnosed with psoriasis are able to live completely normal lives, however, for some it is a debilitating disease. Diagnosing psoriasis is often easy, as it has visible symptoms, but sometimes your Dermatologist may require you to undergo a skin biopsy or x-ray to confirm a diagnosis. Click here for help finding a Dermatologist near you
How can I prevent flare ups and manage psoriasis moving forward?
There are several ways to treat psoriasis, the most commonly used methods are topical treatments, ultraviolet light therapy, and systemic treatments.
Modifications in your lifestyle can also be helpful (for example, take daily baths with warm water and gentle cleansers (avoid hot water), at your skin gently dry after bathing (don’t rub), determine if there are specific things that cause your psoriasis to flare up and try to avoid these things and limit or eliminate alcohol consumption (known to cause flare-ups or interfere with treatments) and don’t smoke! Click here for more information
For a printable guidebook on psoriasis, click here
Peer to Peer:
We solicited comments from other patients who have experienced Psoriasis who have shared some advice based on personal experience. (Coming Soon!)
There are two organizations supporting patients in Canada living with Psoriasis: