Psoriasis

About

Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. Genetics and alterations in the immune system contribute to an increased production of skin cells, which leads to the development of psoriasis patches. Commonly affected areas include the elbows, knees, and scalp, although any part of the body can be affected. Psoriasis can have a profound effect on patients’ quality of life.

Arthritis can be a complication of psoriasis. Psoriasis is associated with other medical conditions, including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and depression.


Treatments we offer

A number of treatments are available for psoriasis, including:

Topical therapy

  • Moisturisers (emollients)
  • Topical steroids
  • Topical vitamin D analogues

Phototherapy

If topical treatments have had little effect, your dermatologist may refer you for phototherapy treatment at St Mary’s Hospital in our nurse-led phototherapy and day care treatment unit. During a phototherapy treatment, your skin will be exposed to ultraviolet light.

  • Ultraviolet light is either given as UVA or UVB, which are different wavelengths of normal sunlight. Specialist phototherapy machines administer ultraviolet light through fluorescent tubes
  • Treatment with UVA is helped by taking a medication known as a psoralen – a combination known as PUVA therapy
  • Treatment with UVB does not need tablets.
  • Most people will attend the clinic two to three times a week and a complete course of treatment will normally involve 15 to 30 visits. The amount of time you spend in the machine will gradually be increased – starting with just a few seconds, rising up to a few minutes depending on how your body responds
  • Our phototherapy nurses will review the effectiveness of the treatment each time you visit

Oral medication

  • Oral retinoid (acitretin)
  • Oral immunosuppressants (methotrexate, ciclosporin)
  • Others (apremilast, dimethyl fumarate)

Injectable biologic treatments

  • For the most severe forms of psoriasis, injectable biologic treatment may be needed This is provided in a specialist psoriasis clinic at St Mary’s Hospital
  • Injectable biologic medications reduce inflammation by targeting specific components of the immune system. They are usually given as an injection into the skin.
  • Various tests are needed before starting a biologic medication, and regular blood test monitoring is required while receiving treatment. Patients are taught how to correctly administer the medications by a nurse, and are then expected to independently self-inject at home

 

Further online resources