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What is psoriasis?

Patient stories

Psoriasis is not just a skin disease

About disease
Psoriasis is a serious chronic skin condition characterised by abnormal epidermal proliferation (excessive growth of the epidermis). It has a strong genetic component. Psoriasis is a chronic conditions and there is no cure for it. This illness comes and goes in cycles of remissions and flare-ups. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, affecting about 80 percent of patients. Plaque psoriasis typically appears as skin bumps that merge into reddened flat areas of oval patches (plaques). Plagues of various sizes, mostly red, are easily palpable.
Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment are very important in the management of psoriasis. If you notice any psoriasis-like skin lesions, you should not hesitate and visit a dermatologist specializing in the treatment of this skin condition. You may be referred for a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A skin biopsy is a medical test that involves collecting a small piece of affected skin. Histopathology is not necessary to diagnose psoriasis. If you are found to have psoriasis, ask your dermatologist about your health status, which can be determined using either of the following scales: PASI, DLQI, and BSA. It is important to identify the scale of your disease to choose the best treatment and to be able to determine if it works.
The disease may begin at any age. However, psoriasis often first appears between ages 15 and 25. This condition may as well occur in young children and elderly patients. In the beginning, psoriasis is manifested by characteristic bumps on the skin, all of which merge together to form psoriatic plaques, fluctuating in extent and severity. Skin manifestations of psoriasis most commonly affect the: scalp, elbows, knees, lumbar or sacral region of the spine, hands, and feet. Psoriatic plaques can also be present on fingernails. Psoriasis types are typically identified by their hallmark appearances, sites of involvement, and the degree of severity. 
Phototherapy (light therapy) has been known and used since ancient times. Exposing the skin to light slows the growth of affected skin cells and improves the condition of the skin in psoriasis. In the majority of patients, sun radiation proves favourable and visibly reduces the skin manifestations. Interestingly, phototherapy can also be used in patients in whom exposure to sun light may make the symptoms worse. PUVA is the only treatment method for psoriasis that combines a light-sensitizing medication psoralen (administered orally) and ultraviolet light A (UVA). UVB phototherapy (either broadband or narrowband ultraviolet light) in psoriasis is  safer than PUVA and can be recommended for patients with psoriasis and concomitant liver or eye problems.
The conventional systemic therapy is used if topical treatments are unsuccessful. Systemic therapy can be delivered using injections or tablets that have a general effect on the body. Conventional systemic therapies are highly effective, but they also involve a higher risk of side effects. Systemic medications are recommended for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. Patients on systemic therapy are required to have their blood and blood pressure tested at regular intervals. Widely used medications are: cyclosporine, methotrexate and retinoids. Cyclosporine is an organic chemical compound administered in tablets. When cyclosporine was found to suppress the activity of the immune system. Methotrexate is a cytostatic and immunosuppressing agent. It is used in injections or tablets. retinoids normalise skin cell production and scaling. Retinoids are vitamin A derivates, which can normalise skin cell production and scaling. 
Biologic agents (biologics) are a breakthrough in the management of psoriasis that brings back hope to affected patients.  Biologic therapies modify the immune reactions of the body and can mimic the functions of antibodies. Biologic therapies target the immune system. Unlike other forms of immunosuppressive agents, biologics only target the sites where psoriasis develops and are suitable for long-term use. Biologics are administered either by subcutaneous injection or intravenous infusion. In Poland, there are 4 biologics authorised for use. (1) Adalimumab is a recombinant human monoclonal antibody specific for human necrosis factor alpha, TNF-α. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. (2) Etanercept is a recombinant human tumor necrosis factor receptor (p75) Fc fusion protein. (3) Infliximab is a chimeric anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) monoclonal antibody, administered by intravenous infusion. (4) Ustekinumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to two types of proteins involved in processes that cause psoriasis.
Using home remedies to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis can bring comfort and relief for skin affected by the disease. Dead Sea salt bathing: Using Dead Sea salt effectively supports traditional therapy of psoriasis. There is also an increasing number of cosmetic products containing Dead Sea salt, which regulates sebum production, has antibacterial properties, and improves the condition of the skin.
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Patient stories

Adventures of a patient living with psoriasis

You can hear the experiences and challenges that a person with psoriasis encounters.

The life of a patient with psoriasis

You can hear the experiences and challenges that a person with psoriasis encounters.

Harald's story "Diagnosis: psoriasis"

"Diagnosis: psoriasis"