Frequently asked questions about Psoriasis

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What is Psoriasis?

It is a persistent chronic immune disease of unknown cause, which develops in people who are genetically predisposed to it. Its appearance is characterised by the presence of a variable number of red, scaly plaques, widespread across the body, typically affecting the elbows, knees, and head. In some cases it may be associated with arthritis.

Is psoriasis contagious?

No. Psoriasis is not contagious. Is an immunological disease that, in spite of the way it looks, is not contagious.

Will my descendants have it?

One factor behind psoriasis is genetic. This means that you can transmit this genetic predisposition to your descendants.

How is psoriasis diagnosed?

Psoriasis is diagnosed by the appearance of characteristic lesions in the affected skin. Occasionally, especially when beginning a treatment or once treated with corticosteroid creams, a patient’s clinical manifestations may become more difficult to identify, so a small skin biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

What treatments are currently available?

Psoriasis can be treated either topically or systemically. Topical treatments are based on moisturisers, with corticosteroids and/or vitamin D derivatives. Topical treatments always help improve the discomfort and appearance of lesions, but may not be sufficient for those patients with lesions covering a large area or which are more acute. These cases may be treated using phototherapy, classical treatments, or more recent biological treatments. Classical treatments have been in use for more than six decades and are effective in a large number of cases, but should be periodically controlled. Biological treatments have only appeared over the last two decades. They are highly effective in most cases but are much more expensive.

What is the most appropriate treatment for my psoriasis?

It depends. Not all types of psoriasis have the same clinical characteristics or respond in the same way. It basically depends on the extent, intensity, and location of the psoriasis. When the doctor sees a patient with this disease, they select a treatment according to the clinical characteristics. Sometimes, only corticosteroid cream is required, while for other cases it is necessary to treat the disease more intensely with biological treatments.

What happens if I don't take the treatment?

If only the skin is involved, you can apply the treatment according to the discomfort it causes. If the condition is slight, some people control it simply with moisturising creams, which help reduce flaking and itching. If the psoriasis is extensive and/or acute, it may require more intense treatment with tablets or injections. When you stop taking the medication, the most common occurrence is that the lesions reappear over time, typically weeks.

Can I live a normal life?

Absolutely. Psoriasis is a benign disease and does not stop you having a totally normal life. The skin lesions can be treated with creams to minimise the discomfort or make them look better. If needed, current treatments with tablets or injections can be applied to help improve the problem or make the lesions disappear.

Will I be cured?

Psoriasis, like many other chronic diseases (e.g., hypertension and diabetes), is incurable, but can be controlled with current treatments (just like other chronic diseases).

Substantiated information by:

Felipe Julio Ramirez Garcia
Mercè Alsina Gibert
Paula Aguilera Peiro
Sara Gómez Armayones

Published: 22 February 2019
Updated: 22 February 2019

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