Help for young people with psoriasis

This year’s Psoriasis Awareness Week, organised by the Psoriasis Association, runs from Monday October 29 – Sunday November 4, 2018. And this year, the event is putting the spotlight on young people who are living with the condition.

Psoriasis is an immune condition that affects the skin and sometimes the joints (psoriatic arthritis). If you have psoriasis your skin cells tend to replace themselves every few days rather than the usual 21 – 28 days, causing a build-up of cells that form raised plaques on the skin. These plaques can be flaky and itchy, causing red, scaly patches on caucasian skin and darker patches on darker skin.

According to the Psoriasis Association, psoriasis affects between 2 – 3 per cent of the UK population, which is the equivalent of about 1.8 million people. It can affect you at any age, though many people develop psoriasis during their late teens to early 30s or between the ages of around 50 – 60.

If you’re a teenager with psoriasis the charity already has a dedicated website for you called PsoTeen (www.psoteen.org.uk) that offers lots of information and practical tips about dealing with psoriasis from day to day. The website also has a forum where teenagers with psoriasis can chat with others of the same age.

And this year the Psoriasis Association is also launching a WhatsApp helpline service to make it easier for young people to get information and support. To access this service, message the charity on 07387 716439.

Another thing to look out for during Psoriasis Awareness Week is the charity’s itch challenge video. Itch, it suggests, is still an under-recognised symptom of psoriasis, but its impact on your quality of life can be significant. Find out more by visiting www.psoriasis-association.org.uk.

Managing psoriasis

There is currently no long-term cure for psoriasis, but there are ways of keeping it under control.

When the symptoms are mild, it can be managed effectively with medical moisturisers called emollients as well as products such a coal tar creams, all of which are available over the counter at your local Careway pharmacy.
Emollient creams and ointments can help by making your skin less dry and more comfortable. They can also make it easier to remove the plaques and can help to reduce itching. Coal tar treatments, on the other hand, are most commonly used for scalp psoriasis, though they’re sometimes also recommended for treating psoriasis on other parts of the body too.

If you’re having symptoms that are more severe, you may need prescription-strength treatment from your GP. But if you use prescription treatments, preparing your skin beforehand with a moisturiser can help the ingredients to be absorbed. Ask your Careway pharmacist for details.

As well as moisturising, try using a soap substitute or an emollient cream to wash, shower and shave with and try to avoid using soap and fragranced products. Other things you can do to manage your psoriasis include quitting smoking if you’re a smoker, and drinking in moderation, as too much alcohol can affect your skin and make it drier than usual.

Eating a healthy diet and drinking around plenty of water may also help. Relaxation may be important too, as stress may trigger psoriasis or make it worse in some people.

Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.