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Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 2-3% of the population of the United Kingdom, where the skins replacement process is sped taking 2-6 days instead of the usual 21 - 28 days for the replacement of skin cells. Patients experience an accumulation of skin cells on the surface of the skin, in the form of a psoriatic plaque, which can form anywhere on the body. Psoriasis can occur at any point in the lifespan, to males or females.
Recent research has found that the changes in the skin begin in the immune system when certain immune cells (T cells) are triggered and become overactive. The T cells produce inflammatory chemicals, and act as if they were fighting an infection or healing a wound, which leads to the rapid growth of skin cells causing psoriatic plaques to form. It is not yet clear what triggers the immune system to act in this way.
There is some degree of genetics associated with the condition; around 30% of people with psoriasis have a family history of the condition, and certain genes have been identified as being linked to psoriasis. Environmental factors can act as a trigger, eg throat infection, injury to the skin, certain drugs and physical or emotional stress.
Treatment includes; Topical therapies (Vitamin D and A analogues, Coal tar preparations, Topical steroids and Dithranol), Phototherapy (with UVB or UVA), Systemic medications (Methotrexate, Ciclosporin, Acitretin or Hydroxycarbamide) and new biological injections (blocking the action of certain immune cells)
Source; Adapted from the Psoriasis Association UK