Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition in which both genetic and environmental factors play a role. It is thought to affect your immune system, causing your skin cells to grow and build up too quickly on the surface of your skin. Normally, skin cells grow and replace old skin cells every three to four weeks. However, psoriasis hastens the process and stimulates the replacement within three to seven days. This rapid build-up results in thick, flaky and crusty red patches of skin (plaques) that are covered with silvery looking scales. Psoriasis can usually appear around your knees, elbows, hands, feet, scalp and lower-back. 

Although psoriasis most commonly occurs in adults, it can affect children and teenagers as well. Currently, the exact cause of psoriasis is not known. Psoriasis is not contagious, and it cannot be contracted through physical contact with someone who has it. However, at times it has been noted that psoriasis can run in the family; so it is possible you may have inherited the skin condition at birth. Psoriasis can sometimes affect the nails and it can be a sign of psoriatic arthritis, one of the most debilitating types of arthritis if not treated early. Although there is currently no permanent cure for psoriasis, ​​there are a number of treatment options that your doctor will be able to suggest that will help keep your skin cleared up of psoriasis. 

Psoriasis can range from mild (small spots of irritation) to severe (patches that cover large areas of skin) and the symptoms of the disorder can vary considerably from one person to another. Most often, psoriasis goes through a cycle where there are periods of remission, when symptoms subside, and flare-ups.  Common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Raised patches of red skin, usually covered with loose silvery scales. These commonly occur on your elbows, knees, elbows, hands, feet, scalp and lower-back.

  • Scaling that can vary from mild to thick, and crusty plaques on your scalp.

  • Itching, burning or soreness, especially during flare-ups or when patches of psoriasis appear in the folds of your body, such as under breast or buttocks.

  • Small areas of bleeding, if the scales on your skin are picked at or scrapped off.

  • Discoloured, or pitted nails.

  • Swollen or stiff joints.​​

If you experience any of the symptoms associated with psoriasis, it is important that you consult a medical expert from the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital to further advise you on how to treat your symptoms. An early treatment can help keep the skin condition under control and prevent it from worsening.

If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis and are being treated for it, you should contact your doctor and especially if your condition is worsening and causing you pain and discomfort.  You should also seek advice if you are suffering from any side effects of medication, including fever, vomiting, chills or fever, or are experiencing an extreme and unusual flare-up.

The internationally trained doctors at The Aga Khan University and Hospital are specialized to provide expert advice on the best form of diagnosis and treatment for your particular symptoms and situation.​​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​​

Skin specialists at the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, are equipped to diagnose psoriasis by conducting a physical examination of your skin, nails and scalp and asking about your medical history. The skin condition usually takes form as visible red patches and silvery scales, which makes detection relatively straightforward.

However, in some instances your doctor may ask for an X-ray exam to see if you may be suffering from psoriatic arthritis. He/she may also conduct a skin biopsy for further analysis to rule out other disorders or to confirm the diagnosis.​​

Once a diagnosis has been made, the highly trained doctors at the Teeth and Service Line at The Aga Khan University and Hospital will be able to treat your symptoms with utmost care and commitment.  

Although there is no specific cure for psoriasis, there are a number of treatment options that your doctor will be able to suggest that will help keep your skin cleared up of psoriasis. The treatment chosen will depend on your age, type of diagnosis, location and severity of the problem.

The aim of treatment is to slow the growth of skin cell development and to reduce the inflammation that the disorder causes. However, in some instances the symptoms are severe and widespread, in which case your doctor might suggest a more aggressive type of treatment.

Most cases of psoriasis tend to be mild and can be treated effectively with skin products (e.g. lotions, creams or ointments). You may be prescribed specialized shampoos or oils to treat psoriasis of the scalp. Oral and or injectable medications can also be given to help control the symptoms of psoriasis. 

In some cases, phototherapy is also used which has least side effects and can cause long-term disease clearance. 

It is not uncommon for patches of psoriasis to appear after an injury like a curt or burn and this is called the Koebner’s phenomenon. Thus, it is important that you avoid the irritation or injuring of your skin if you have been diagnosed with psoriasis. ​​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.