Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition in which an increased production of cells results in red, flaky, crusty plaques, covered with silvery scales. These mostly occur on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back and can be itchy or sore.
Skin cells normally have a life cycle of 3-4 weeks but in the case of psoriasis, the cycle tends to be 3-7 days, causing the over-production. It varies in severity and is characterised by periods in which there are no symptoms or only mild ones. Although the condition is not fully understood, it is thought to be linked to the immune system.
There are different types of psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis affects the body in a raindrop pattern and occurs mainly on the torso. Plaque psoriasis is the more typical thick, scaly type and there is a form that just affects the nails. To confirm the diagnosis of psoriasis, and to rule out other skin disorders, a biopsy can be performed.