Social situations can be stressful and demanding enough without the itchy, red, flaky skin or inflamed, damaged nails caused by psoriasis, also called PsO.1 When you have PsO, especially in visible places on your body, you may feel self-conscious and embarrassed, and avoid socializing. The stress and emotional burden of PsO, unfortunately, can worsen the symptoms.2But know that you can take charge of your life and make sure your body is as well-prepared as possible by taking a holistic view of your self-care: healthy nutrition, regular exercise, and looking after your skin and nails.3 And most importantly, know that you are not alone – and you are certainly not contagious!4
Psoriasis is a common condition that affects skin and nails. It is characterized by inflammation caused by a dysfunction of the immune system, building new skin cells on top of, or just below, existing ones.5 Our skin cells are replaced on average every 21-28 days. In PsO, however, skin cells are replaced every 4-7 days.6 Because the life cycle of skin cells is sped up, the skin cells don’t grow and flake off gradually in a natural exfoliation process, but rapidly build up on the surface of the skin, which causes itchy, sometimes painful, red patches or silvery scales.7
The patches, also known as plaques, typically appear on the elbows, knees, feet, scalp, hands or lower back, but can appear anywhere on the body.8 PsO is not contagious.6
Psoriasis can manifest in a few different ways and can appear anywhere on your body. It can feel like an itching, burning sensation, which can be painful and make it hard to relax, sleep, or simply enjoy life. It can also cause thick, pitted or ridged nails.7
There are five types of psoriasis:5
Psoriasis is the most common immune system-related skin disorder. It affects about 125 million people worldwide.13
Often, people first develop PsO before the age of 40. It is particularly common in teenagers and young adults,7 a time when people may be especially conscious of their appearance.
Men and women develop PsO at equal rates. It also occurs in all racial groups aged 20 or over, but at varying rates. For example, about 1.5% of African Americans have PsO, compared to 3.6% of Caucasians.13
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that comes and goes, and for which there, unfortunately, is no cure. The main goal of treatment is to stop the skin cells from growing so quickly and to remove scales.8
There are no special blood tests or tools to diagnose psoriasis. A dermatologist may take a piece of the affected skin (a biopsy) and examine it under the microscope.15
Depending on where the PsO appears on your body, you may require a different type of treatment. When the psoriasis is limited to a specific part of your body, light therapy or topical treatments can be used. When it is moderate to severe or other treatments are not working, your doctor may prescribe oral or injectable drugs instead.8
Certain lifestyle choices can also be helpful, such as eating healthy, exercising, stopping smoking, managing stress,14 and moisturizing well especially after bathing.8 Pay attention to what may trigger flare-ups and avoid those triggers as much as possible. Infections, injuries, stress, smoking and intense sun exposure can all worsen psoriasis.8
Psoriasis is both physically painful and mentally burdensome. The discomfort, resulting insomnia, as well as the social exclusion or even discrimination16 can make those suffering from PsO extremely unhappy.15
A study found the mental and physical impact of psoriasis comparable to that seen in cancer, heart disease and depression. 37% of people with PsO have experienced suicidal thoughts.18 If you have PsO and are feeling low, it is important to speak to your doctor about finding mental health support. In addition to asking to be referred to a mental health professional, find local support groups to connect with others who share your experience and plight to find comfort in knowing you are not alone in this.20
Learning as much as you can about PsO so that you are fully aware of your treatment options and can prevent flare-ups by recognising possible triggers, can help restore a feeling of control. Educate your family and friends too so that they may feel empowered to support you in dealing with the disease.20
The list below includes example questions to help start a conversation with your health care provider. There may be other relevant questions based on your symptoms, stage, and medical history that are not listed here.
Janssen recognizes the debilitating effects diseases like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have on patients and their loved ones. That’s why, for more than a decade, our team has been dedicated to advancing the science behind dermatologic conditions to improve patients’ lives.
We understand the importance of investigating multiple therapeutic options to meet individual patient needs. Through research and discovery, we will continue to expand our knowledge of disease pathways to further address the underlying causes of immune-mediated diseases like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Our ultimate goal is to provide maximum levels of skin clearance, by identifying opportunities for early intervention, interception and long-term remission of this chronic, sometimes debilitating, disease.
Janssen understands the physical and emotional toll that psoriasis (PsO) can take on the lives of everyone it touches. That’s why we’ve designed a place to help you take control of your disease and your life. A central hub with the information you need. With the right tools, there are no limits to what you can achieve. Because every day should be filled with triumphs, no matter how big or small they may be.
Hosted by broadcaster, Dr Ciara Kelly, PsO Let’s Talk Psoriasis is the first series of its kind designed to help people manage their psoriasis. Featuring a range of guests including healthcare experts and people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the four episodes provide insights and advice on a range of topics from treatment options, mental health, diet and nutrition, managing stigma and self-image.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Causes and Triggers Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/causes/ Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/ Accessed: October 2023.
PAPAA. About Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.papaa.org/learn-about-psoriasis-and-psoriatic-arthritis/common-questions/psoriasis-a-simple-explanation/ Accessed: October 2023.
Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840. Accessed: October 2023.
Mayo Clinic. Diagnosis treatment. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845. Accessed: October 2023.
Arlington Dermatology. A look at the types of psoriasis. Available at; https://www.arlingtondermatology.net/2012/05/16/a-look-at-the-types-of-psoriasis/ Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Inverse Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/inverse-psoriasis/ Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Pustular Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/pustular/ Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Erythrodermic Psoriasis. https://www.psoriasis.org/erythrodermic-psoriasis/ Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis Statistics. Available at https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/ Accessed: October 2023
VeryWell Health. 6 Positive Lifestyle Factors That Promote Good Health. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/lifestyle-factors-health-longevity-prevent-death-1132391 Accessed: October 2023
Verywellhealth. How Psoriasis Is Diagnosed. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-psoriasis-is-diagnosed-2788316 Accessed: October 2023.
World Health Organization. Global report on Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241565189 Accessed: October 2023.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Life With Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/ Accessed: October 2023.
NHS. Psoriasis treatments. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/treatment/ Accessed: October 2023.