What is Plaque Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition affecting roughly 2% of people in the UK. It can develop at any age but most commonly affects adults under 35 years old. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis and is characterised by raised, red, flaky patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic Arthritis affects some people who have psoriasis. Usually people with PsA develop psoriasis first and later develop problems in their joints. The most common symptoms of PsA are joint pain, stiffness and swelling along with the skin problems associated with psoriasis. Occasionally joint problems can occur before psoriasis patches appear. In both PsO and PsA, the disease can have flare- ups where symptoms worsen and periods of remission with no symptoms.
What are the causes of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?
The red, scaly skin patches that are characteristic of psoriasis are caused by an increased production of skin cells. Although the causes of psoriasis are not fully understood, a problem with the immune system is thought to be involved. The immune system usually protects the body from infection and disease but in the case of psoriasis, the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. In cases of join involvement in PsA, the immune system attacks healthy joint tissue causing inflammation, swelling and stiffness in the joints.
Psoriasis does run in families and so it is thought that there is a genetic involvement in developing the disease. The exact role of genetics is unclear. Whilst there is evidence that several genes could be linked to psoriasis, having certain genes doesn’t necessarily mean a person will develop the disease.
Many people develop psoriasis for the first time due to certain triggers: These can include:
- Injury to the skin
- Drinking alcohol to excess
- Immune disorders such as HIV
- Hormonal changes (particularly in women who are going through puberty/menopause)