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Psoriasis - Living with psoriasis

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Although psoriasis is just a minor irritation for some people, the condition can have a significant impact on your life.

If you have psoriasis, you may find the following advice helpful.

Self care

Self care is an essential part of your daily life. It involves taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with support from those involved in your care. Self care includes staying fit and maintaining good physical and mental health, preventing illness or accidents and caring more effectively for minor illnesses and long-term conditions.

People with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from self care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, a better quality of life, and be more active and independent. Having a care plan will help you manage your treatment so it fits your lifestyle. 

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Keep up your treatment

It is important to use your treatment as prescribed, even if your psoriasis improves. Continuous treatment can help prevent flare-ups. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment or any side effects, talk to your GP or healthcare team.

Regular reviews

Because psoriasis is usually a long-term condition, you may be in regular contact with your healthcare team. Discuss your symptoms or concerns with them as the more the team knows, the more they can help you.

Help with health costs

If you regularly pay for more than three prescriptions a month, you may save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). To check the cost of a PPC, call 0845 850 0030 or check leaflet HC12 (available in some pharmacies or GP surgeries).

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Healthy eating and exercise

People with psoriasis have a slightly higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, although it is not known why. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are recommended for everyone, not just people with psoriasis, because they can help prevent many of these conditions.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can also relieve stress, which may help improve your psoriasis.

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Emotional impact of psoriasis

Due to the unpleasant effects that psoriasis can have on physical appearance, low self-esteem and anxiety are common among people with the condition. This can lead to depression, especially if the psoriasis gets worse.

Your GP or dermatologist will understand the psychological and emotional impact of psoriasis, so talk to them about your concerns or anxieties. If necessary, they can discuss the different treatment options available.

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Psoriatic arthritis

Between 10% and 20% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. This causes tenderness, pain and swelling in the joints and connective tissue,as well as stiffness. It commonly affects the ends of the fingers and toes. In some people, it affects the lower back, neck and knees. Most people develop psoriatic arthritis after the onset of psoriasis, but about 20% develop it before they are diagnosed with psoriasis.

There is no single test for psoriatic arthritis. It is normally diagnosed using a combination of methods, including looking at your medical history, physical examinations, blood tests, X-rays and MRI scans. If you have psoriasis, you will usually have an annual assessment to look for signs of psoriatic arthritis.

If your doctor suspects you have psoriatic arthritis, you will usually be referred to a specialist called a rheumatologist so you can be treated with anti-inflammatory or anti-rheumatic medicines.

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Pregnancy

Psoriasis does not affect fertility and women with psoriasis can have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. Some women find their psoriasis improves during pregnancy, but for others it gets worse.

Talk to your healthcare team if you are thinking of having a baby. Some treatments for psoriasis can be harmful to a developing baby, so use contraception while taking them. This can apply to both men and women, depending on the medication. Your healthcare team can suggest the best ways to control your psoriasis before you start trying for a family.

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Talk to others

Many people with psoriasis have found that getting involved in support groups helps. Support groups can increase your self-confidence, reduce feelings of isolation, and give you practical advice about living with the condition.

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Medical Review: July 20, 2013
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