Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes flaky patches of skin which form scales.

Psoriasis is a common, inflammatory skin condition, it affects around 3% of the population.  It causes skin to turn over more quickly than normal. This leads to dull-red, scaly plaques forming on the skin; often the knees, elbows and scalp. Psoriasis is most commonly chronic, which means it can always be present or can happen on and off over time. We do not know what causes psoriasis, although we do know it can be linked to the genes in your family, and made worse at times of stress, or with alcohol and smoking. There are different types of psoriasis which can affected the nails, joints or other parts of the skin.

Does psoriasis have to be treated? 

You may not need treatment if your psoriasis is not causing you any problems.  Your doctor can discuss the options with you. 

When is the treatment applied? 

Moisturisers (emollients) are best to be used regularly. Active treatment is not usually required if the psoriasis is no longer raised up. Sometimes smooth red, paler or darker skin can remain in an area after psoriasis has cleared. This is called post inflammatory skin change and will fade over time so does not need active treatments. These areas do not need to be treated unless the psoriasis comes back again (with scaly dry patches).

Can I use sunlight to help my skin? 

Sun light can help improve psoriasis and many people find their psoriasis can improve after being in the sun. Being active outside when it is sunny is good and will make you feel better. However it is important to avoid getting sun burnt as this is painful and has risks for your skin both now and when you are older. 

How is Psoriasis treated? 

Treatment will depend on the type of psoriasis, how extensive it is, how much it is concerning you and which part of your body is affected. Treatments will be used to decrease the inflammation, scaliness and itchiness of the skin. There are many options and no one treatment works for everyone. Your doctor or nurse will discuss the best treatments for you. 

What topical treatments  (applied to skin like creams) are used in psoriasis? 

Moisturisers often called emollients can help if your skin feels dry. There are a number of treatment creams such as steroid creams, vitamin D creams and combinations. Many of these active treatments are used ‘off licence’ in children and young adults under 18 years. This is common for treatments in children and young adults. Being off-license does not mean that they are not safe.

What can be done if the topical treatments are not helping me enough? 

If psoriasis is severe, widespread (covering a lot of skin) and not controlled with topical (putting creams and ointments on) treatments then other treatments may be considered.  These include light treatments (UVB in the dermatology department), tablets (methotrexate, acitretin, ciclosporin for example) or occasionally injections (‘biologic’ medications) which can be needed in severe psoriasis. 

Some people may try several different treatments before finding the treatment which works best for them.

What can you expect? 

Treatments can control psoriasis for some, but it is likely that areas of psoriasis will come and go. 

Having psoriasis should not stop you living your life to the full and doing anything you want to do. 

Visit for further trusted information.

Accessibility tools