Is psoriasis contagious?

No. Many people believe that psoriasis is infectious or contagious but this is not true. Psoriasis cannot be passed on to, or caught from, other people.

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Will my children get psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an inherited condition but the way in which this happens is complicated and is not yet fully understood. Many parents with psoriasis wonder if their children will also get the disease. As an estimate, a child who has one parent with psoriasis has roughly a 1 in 4 chance of developing the condition. Also realize that psoriasis can occur in the complete absence of any family history.

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How is psoriasis diagnosed?

There are no special blood tests or diagnostic tools to diagnose psoriasis. Your healthcare provider usually examines the affected skin and decides if it is caused by psoriasis. Less often, the physician does a skin biopsy – i.e. a technique in which a skin lesion is removed by the physician and sent to a pathologist to render a microscopic diagnosis.

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Is there a cure for psoriasis?

There is no cure but many treatments such as topicals (applied to the skin), systemic drugs (affect the whole body) as well as a new class of drug called biologics that target specific cells linked to psoriasis. People often need to try different treatments before they find one that works for them. It is hard to predict what will work for a particular individual, however, it is important to be open-minded and willing to work with your doctor to find a treatment that will work for you.

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Can psoriasis affect all parts of the body?

Psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. But psoriasis can develop anywhere, including the nails, palms, soles, genitals and sometimes even on the face (rare). Often the lesions appear symmetrically, which means in the same place on the right and left sides of the body.

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How severe can psoriasis become?

Psoriasis can be mild, moderate or severe. Approximately 80% of those affected with psoriasis have mild to moderate disease, with 20% having moderate to severe psoriasis affecting more than 5% of the body surface area (BSA) or affecting crucial body areas such as the hands, feet, face, or genitals. The palm of the hand equals 1 percent of the skin xii. However, the severity of psoriasis is also measured by how psoriasis affects a person's quality of life. Psoriasis can still have a serious impact even if it involves a small area on the body.

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Can psoriasis develop at any age?

Yes. Psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 25vii, but it can develop at any age. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of psoriasis patients get it before the age of 10, including rare cases of infants having the disease.

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What health complications and diseases are associated with psoriasis?

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It controls our body temperature and serves as a barrier to infection. Large areas of psoriasis can lead to infection, fluid loss and poor blood circulation.

Psoriasis patients may also develop psoriatic arthritis – where the joints and soft tissue around them become stiff and inflamed. Psoriatic arthritis can affect the fingers, toes, neck, lower back, knees and ankles. In severe cases, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling and cause irreversible damage to jointsxii.

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How can I help a friend or family member who has psoriasis?

A useful first step is to find out more about psoriasis so that you understand what your friend or relative is going through. One of the most important things you can do is to let them know that you are ready to listen and support them when they need it. People with psoriasis often feel self-conscious and embarrassed about their appearance and they may become angry, depressed or withdrawn.

Join the Freedom 360 Facebook community and see the Links section for details of patient groups who can provide further support and information.

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Are there any measures that can help to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an unpredictable condition and it is often difficult to pinpoint what triggers the condition or makes it worse. As a general rule, it is best not to smokeiii and to avoid drinking large amounts of alcoholiv as this can worsen symptoms in some people.

Some medicines can worsen psoriasis. If you think this might be the case, talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment

Stress is also thought to be a trigger for psoriasisvii. Obviously, it is impossible to avoid stress completely but following general guidelines for a healthy lifestyle (a varied diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep) is a good starting point.

It is also helpful to wear light clothing in fabrics that are less likely to irritate the skin or make it itchy.

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Why does my psoriasis itch and how can I relieve the itch?

Itching that is associated with psoriasis arises when certain chemicals stimulate nerve fibres just below the outer layer of the skin. Itch messages are sent to the brain in the nervous system and trigger the urge to scratch.

One of the simplest ways for people with psoriasis to control itch is by keeping the skin moisturized. Dry skin can induce and aggravate itch. Alternatively, you can take a cold shower, or use cold packs for some relief. Other treatment for itch include tar products, topical corticosteroids, topical salicylates, agents that alter skin sensation, vitamin D analogs, topical immunomodulators and antidepressantsvi.

Talk to your doctor if you need medication for your itch.

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My current treatment is not effective – should I talk to my doctor?

A wide range of treatments are available for psoriasis. See the Treatment options section for further information. If your current treatment is not controlling your symptoms, or if it is not working as well as it used to, do consult your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that is right for you.

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Does psoriasis have an impact on mental well-being?

Yes, psoriasis can have a negative impact on the emotional as well as the physical well-being of sufferers. The pain and embarrassment associated with skin lesions can disrupt social and work-related activities and the physical and mental effects of psoriasis have been compared to those of other diseases such as cancer, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depressionvii. See the Quality of Life section of the website for further details.

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What is a PASI Score?

The PASI score stands for Psoriasis Area and Severity Index. This tool allows researchers to put an objective number on what would otherwise be a very subjective idea: how bad a person's psoriasis is. To arrive at the score, the three features of a psoriatic plaque – its redness, scaling and thickness - are each assigned a number from 0 to 4 with 4 being worst. Then the extent of involvement of each region of the body is scored from 0 to 6. Adding up the scores give a range of 0 to 72xi.

Many studies quote the improvement seen in the PASI score over time as a measure of a drug's effectiveness. For example, they may note that a certain proportion of patients experienced a 75% reduction in their PASI scores over a 12-week treatment period and report this as a percentage of people achieving PASI 75xi.

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