Common ailments

Psoriasis

My 13 year old daughter has developed red, scaly patches on her arms and legs which are particularly obvious on her elbows and knees. My grandmother had psoriasis which looked very much like my daughter’s rash. Is it possible that my daughter may have psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition associated with the immune system and which causes skin cells to reproduce too quickly. Whereas normal skin cells mature and fall off the skin’s surface in around 28 days, skin affected by psoriasis takes only 3 or 4 days to mature and move to the surface. Rather than the skin shedding however, the cells pile up and form flaky lesions which can have a red appearance due to increased blood flow.

Psoriasis is a genetic skin condition therefore there is every chance your daughter may have inherited the condition from your grandmother. For many people symptoms can also begin or become worse due to a certain event, known as a trigger. Possible triggers can include injury to your skin such as a cut or scrape, hormonal changes such as puberty, or stress.

There are different types of psoriasis but the most common by far is chronic plaque psoriasis, where the rash is made up of patches on the skin known as plaques. Although there is no cure for the condition, there are many treatments available which can help to clear the rash as much as possible and keep it under control. Many of the treatments are creams or ointments and, in more severe cases, light therapy is also used as a hospital-based treatment.

Psoriasis affects different people in different ways but, generally, plaque psoriasis is a chronic (persistent) condition with flare-ups that come and go. However, some studies have shown that, over time, the condition may go away completely in some people.

I suggest that your daughter visit the family GP as soon as possible as they will be able to make a formal diagnosis and prescribe a suitable course of treatment to help your daughter.

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