Everything you need to know about Psoriasis

What is Psoriasis?

Deriving from the Greek words ‘psora’ (itch) and ‘iasis’ (condition), the word Psoriasis roughly translates to ‘itchy condition’ or ‘being itchy’. An ailment generally believed to be genetic, psoriasis is often triggered by environmental factors, and, in Australia, approximately 2.5% of the population – or about 450,000 people - are affected by this skin condition.

An inflammatory disease that primarily manifests in the skin, it affects both men and women equally, and can happen at any – and all – stages of life, though it generally affects those between the ages of 15 and 35. Unlike many skin ailments, psoriasis is a chronic condition – which means it is both long term and without a cure. There are, however, treatments that can lessen both the symptoms and side effects.


What are the symptoms?

As with all skin conditions, psoriasis will manifest in different ways from person to person and will be impacted by a number of factors – from genetics to environment. The level of which someone’s skin is affected will also vary – while in some cases it can be a small scattering of irritated skin; in others large areas can be covered by major skin eruptions which can cause extreme discomfort. Additionally, psoriasis is a condition that frequently comes in waves – meaning that skin will often flare for a period of time, before subsiding, and – in some cases – going into remission, which occurs when the symptoms disappear temporarily.

The most common signs and symptoms of psoriasis include raised and scaly patches of inflamed skin, which appear on any part of the body and tend to cause pain and consistent itching. The reddish patches are usually covered with silvery white scales, and in most cases the skin will be found on the torso, scalp, elbows, and knee. Typically, the lesions develop symmetrically on both the right and left side of the body.

Psoriasis will also vary in appearance depending on both skin colour and tone; in people with lighter skin the patches of skin will look red and are generally covered with dead skin cells that appear silvery white, while in people with dark skin tones, the skin may look thicker and appear dark grey, purple, or brown.

What triggers Psoriasis?

Psoriasis occurs when the body’s immune cells - known as T lymphocytes, or T cells - attack healthy skin cells, which means the life span of the skin cells subsequently shorten to about 3 to 5 days, as opposed to their usual 20 to 28-day life span. This then forces the cells to reproduce more rapidly than normal.

While triggers differ depending on a plethora of considerations, stress, genetics, infection, and environmental factors can all influence the likelihood of someone having psoriasis.  

Coal tar: the centuries-old ingredient used to treat Psoriasis

While it’s a condition that can’t be cured completely, there are a number of treatments available on the market that are designed to both diminish the unsightly appearance and lessen the discomfort caused by psoriasis.  And a key ingredient found in many remedies is coal tar. A by-product of coal processing that has been used for more than a century to treat skin problems, coal tar was first discovered around 1665 and it’s believed to have been used for medical purposes as far back as the 1800s.

 Today, it is considered an inexpensive topical treatment that can relieve both the symptoms and side effects of psoriasis. Available in different strengths and formulations, coal tar belongs to a class of drugs called keratoplastics, and it works by causing the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of skin cells. This effect decreases scaling and dryness. Coal tar can also decrease the itchiness of these skin conditions. Additionally, coal tar can help reduce dandruff and is especially useful in treating scalp psoriasis and hard-to-treat palmoplantar psoriasis. Such is its effectiveness that a 2014 study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that a 12-week course of coal tar paired with salicylic acid was just as effective in relieving psoriasis as the prescription drugs calcipotriol and betamethasone.


Is coal tar suitable for everyone?

As with most medicines, coal tar is not suitable for all patients. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may want to use a different treatment, and those who are sun sensitive or take medicine that makes them more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light should also consider using a different treatment.


John Plunkett's Psorasist Cream and how it works

 John Plunkett's has long been a pioneer in the pharmaceutical space and has a rich history that dates back over 35 years. As a brand that champions skincare solutions to nurture and care for skin that's been influenced by the Australian lifestyle, our Psorasist Cream is specially formulated to aid in the treatment of Psoriasis and other skin conditions associated with scaling and inflammation. The cream helps soften and remove scales, reduces itching and redness, and assists in the restoration of skin to its normal condition.

An effective blend of ingredients which quickly relieve the irritating and unsightly symptoms of Psoriasis, our John Plunkett's Psorasist Cream boasts a four-way action designed to reduce inflammation, clear excess scale, reduce cell proliferation, and re-moisturise and repair affected skin tissue. Using a unique blend of proven, innovative and natural ingredients, John Plunkett’s Psorasist Cream quickly relieves and removes the irritating and unsightly symptoms of psoriasis.

 The formula fuses coal tar, natural fish oil, salicylic acid, precipitated sulfur and retinol palmitate to offer a four-way action that delivers a demonstrable improvement. As well as helping to soften and remove skin build-up and scaling caused by psoriasis, John Plunkett's Psorasist Cream will also help reduce itching and redness and assists in the restoration of skin to its normal condition.