In a recent episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the youngest of the clan Kylie Jenner discovered she’s suffering from psoriasis.
Like her sister Kim Kardashian and mum Kris Jenner, who both also suffer, she noticed the itchy, scaly patches on her body.
The Kardashians aren’t alone; other famous sufferers include Cara Delevingne, singer LeAnn Rimes and comedian Alan Carr.
But what is psoriasis and how do you know if you have it? Dr Angelika Razzaque, a GP and member of the PSO What? expert taskforce, shares the facts and explains why psoriasis is a condition that shouldn’t be underestimated.
1. A lot of people live with the disease
Up to two million people in the UK and Ireland in fact. It can start at any age, but most often develops either during late teens/early twenties or in middle age. It can affect men and women equally.
2. People with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells
Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four weeks, but in psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days. The resulting over-production and build-up of skin cells is what creates the thick, scaly patches associated with psoriasis. Although the process isn't fully understood, it's thought to be related to a problem within the immune system.
3. Certain events or triggers can cause psoriasis symptoms to get worse
Possible triggers of psoriasis include an injury to the skin, changes in the weather, stress, certain infections, medication, alcohol, smoking and certain foods. The condition isn't contagious, so it can't be spread from person to person.
4. Far from just being a skin condition, psoriasis is a serious, sometimes lifelong condition impacting physical health and mental wellbeing.
People living with psoriasis can experience associated health issues, such as psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. A survey conducted as part of the PSO What? Initiative revealed that 93% of people asked felt psoriasis negatively affected their quality of life. Over half of people surveyed also said their psoriasis makes them feel self-conscious (73%), embarrassed (69%) and anxious (59%).
5. Some people are suffering in silence
A third of people surveyed as part of the PSO What? initiative do not regularly visit their GP each year, and some contrasting healthcare guidelines may mean that some doctors do not have clear direction for when exactly to ask their psoriasis patients back into the consulting room.
Unfortunately there is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can help to improve symptoms. Regular GP reviews, at least once a year, are important to help manage psoriasis symptoms and to enable healthcare professionals to screen for associated conditions.
6. Psoriasis affects everyone differently
The condition can be effectively managed. By seeing a doctor, nurse or pharmacist regularly, people living with the condition needn’t suffer in silence. With more training for GPs, doctors will be better able to understand the complexities of psoriasis and offer truly holistic care.
“My advice to people with the condition is not to give up, there is always a way to get help,” Dr Angelika adds.
Do you suffer from the condition? Tell us in the Comments box below.