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1 in 50 people suffer from psoriasis and the unpleasant symptoms of red, flaky, scaly patches on the skin which can be sore and itchy. Psoriasis can appear on any part of the body at any age, and both men and women are equally affected. The skin appears this way because of a buildup of skin cells, those with psoriasis replace skin cells faster than those who don’t. These symptoms can have both a physical and emotional impact on the sufferer. Many people with the condition can have low self esteem due to the appearance and feel down and depressed because of the stress and pain of having this condition.

Psoriasis is usually treated with emollients to keep the skin moisturised and topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Speak to a doctor about the best method of treatment for your psoriasis.

Below are some common Psoriasis medicines. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and other non-medical methods may be more suitable. If you would like to learn more about these options, then please click here. Before receiving medication you must answer a number of questions to asses your suitability. All questions are reviewed by a GMC registered doctor before a final decision is made. All medication is dispensed via a full regulated and registered UK pharmacy.

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"Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin. People with psoriasis replace skin cells too fast which causes a buildup and manifests itself in the red, scaly patches that can appear on any part of the body. It’s difficult for psoriasis flare ups to clear on their own and emollient creams are usually given as a starter treatment if the condition is mild. Topical corticosteroids and phototherapy are also common treatments for psoriasis, however, you should speak to your doctor about your suitability for the latter treatment."

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long term skin condition that affects around 1 in 50 people. It is a autoimmune condition that causes red, flaky, and crusty patches on the skin with silvery scales due to a buildup of skin cells. In people with psoriasis the process of shedding skin cells is sped up from the normal time frame of 3-4 weeks to 3-7 days, this fast production of skin cells causes a buildup which causes the the thick patches to appear on the skin. Both men and women can develop psoriasis at any age, and you can be without the condition for a period of time and it may return intermittently throughout your life.

Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the elbows, scalp, knees, and lower back. The patches can be sore and itchy, and have an unsightly appearance. Psoriasis has also been known to affect the nails and joints which is known as ‘psoriatic arthritis’ which causes symptoms such as swelling and stiffness.

Psoriasis is incurable but the condition can be managed with treatment.

Types of psoriasis

There are a number of different types of psoriasis but plaque psoriasis is the most common type which causes the red, scaly patches on the elbows, scalp, knees, and lower back. Other types of psoriasis include:

  • Guttate
  • Inverse
  • Pustular
  • Erythrodermic

What causes psoriasis?

The cause of psoriasis is the speed at which skin cells are replaced but the reason why this happens is not clear. One theory is that it is an autoimmune condition which means that the body’s T-cells mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells which causes the overproduction of new skin cells. It’s thought that genetics and environmental factors may be responsible for this.

Some people are more prone to developing psoriasis if they have a family history of the condition. Psoriasis is hereditary so if your parent or other close family members have the condition this increases your chances of developing it.

There are a number of triggers for psoriasis which may worsen the condition or cause a flare up. Knowing your triggers is a good way of managing the symptoms and preventing flare ups. Stress is a cause of many health problems including skin conditions such as psoriasis. Many people find that when they’re stressed they get a flare up or their psoriasis worsens. However, having psoriasis can also cause stress and it becomes a vicious cycle. Other Psoriasis triggers may include:

  • Damage or injury to the skin such as cuts, bits, or sunburn
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Changes in hormones
  • Medicines such as lithium, antimalarials, anti-inflammatories, and high blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors
  • Throat infections may cause guttate psoriasis
  • Immune disorders such as HIV
  • Psoriasis is not contagious so cannot be caused by catching it from another person who has the condition.

    How does psoriasis affect a person’s life?

    Psoriasis varies in severity from person to person so where it may affect one person mildly it may affect another person greatly. This condition has both physical and emotional implications for the sufferer. The physical pain and discomfort of the skin patches can hinder a person#s ability to do normal activities and for some the itching can be unbearable and frustrating, and can keep them awake at night. If the itching and pain is severe at night this can cause many sleepless nights, and sleep deprivation has serious consequences on health.

    No matter how severe psoriasis is it can have an emotional and psychological impact on the sufferer. The pain and unpleasant appearance of psoriasis can lower confidence and self esteem, the psychological impact of this can cause issues with socialising and interacting with other people. If the condition gets worse this eventually may lead to depression.

    Are there complications of psoriasis?

    Psoriasis puts you at risk of developing complications or increases your chances of developing other diseases. The psychological effects and the problems that come with this is just one complication of this condition. Other complications may include:

    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Eye condtions
    • Obesity
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Metabolic syndrome
    • Other autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Kidney disease

    It’s not clear why people with psoriasis are risk of these diseases but there has been between this skin condition and theses disease. These complications are more likely to occur in people with psoriasis.

    When psoriasis itches it can be tempting to scratch, however, scratching broken and sore skin can cause further complications such as skin infections. Psoriasis does not cause scarring although if you’ve cut the skin through scratching this may lead to scarring.

    What treatments are available for psoriasis?

    Unfortunately there is no cure for psoriasis but there are treatments available to reduce the symptoms and control flare ups. If you want to manage flare ups yourself without the use of medicine there are a few things you can do to help yourself. Firstly, it’s important to avoid triggers if you’re aware of them. If you’re currently smoking and drinking too much alcohol reducing this or cutting these out of your lifestyle completely will significantly reduce a flare up and your chances of developing psoriasis. You can work with your GP to establish the cause of your condition and if there are any triggers so you can avoid these in future.

    Although it’s easier said than done, trying no to scratch the affected area will stop scarring, ease pain, and heal sores.

    Emollients are the first treatment used for mild psoriasis and can be used in combination with other treatments if the condition is more severe. Emollients reduce water loss to keep to skin moisturised, they protect the skin and are anti-inflammatory. Using these regularly can prevent the skin from getting too dry. Other topical creams include corticosteroids. Topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation and slows down the production of skin cells helping to clear the psoriasis. Alternative topical creams/solutions include vitamin D analogues, calcineurin inhibitors, coal tar, and dithranol.

    Phototherapy is also used to treat psoriasis and involves exposing the affected area to artificial light under the supervision of a dermatologist in hospital or a specialist centre. Types of phototherapy include Ultraviolet B (UVB), Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), and Combination light therapy. Ultraviolet B is the most common type and can effectively clear the symptoms of psoriasis and is particularly helpful for stubborn areas and rare forms of psoriasis such as guttate psoriasis. This type of therapy should only be prescribed and should be carried out under the care of a dermatologist, do not mistake this therapy for using sunbeds this is not an appropriate treatment and can cause serious health consequences such as skin cancer.

    There are many other treatments available which you can discuss with your doctor. Tablets, capsules or injections may be given if your psoriasis is severe. The treatment you receive will depend on the type of psoriasis you have and how severe it is, so you will need to be diagnosed before you receive treatment.