What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a condition that affects the immune system. It touches around 1.8 million people in the UK and 73,000 in Ireland.1,2 It affects males and females equally.1
Psoriasis speeds up the skin replacement process, so that skin cells that are usually replaced in 21-28 days are replaced in just a few days. This abundance of skin cells builds up to form raised ‘plaques’ on the skin, which are often flaky, scaly and itchy. Psoriasis can occur on any area of the body, including the scalp, hands, feet and genitals. The plaques are usually red on Caucasian skin and appear as darker patches on darker skin tones.2
The exact cause of psoriasis has not yet been determined, but it has been confirmed that it is related to the body's immune system and that there is a hereditary (genetic) link. This means psoriasis can run in families.3
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. It appears as red or pink small scaly bumps that merge into patches or ‘plaques’ of raised skin and tends to be more common at sites of friction, scratching or abrasion.
Plaque psoriasis on the arms
Plaque psoriasis on the back

What is the impact of psoriasis?

Psoriasis can be physically and emotionally debilitating and should not be considered a simple cosmetic annoyance.5 77% of people with psoriasis report that their condition severely affects their quality of life.6 Psoriasis has broad implications and results in physical, emotional and economic impact for patients.


The common symptoms are itching, scales, pain and restricted movements.7 Particularly, itch affects at least 70-90% of psoriasis patients. Patients have described the itch as a burning sensation or as like being bitten by fire ants.8 
Psoriasis can also disturb sleep, especially when it flares up.11
Additionally, the relative risk of co-morbidities, or associated conditions is raised in people with psoriasis e.g.  ischaemic heart disease, stroke, hypertension, dyslipidaemia (an abnormal amount of lipids in the blood), diabetes and Crohn’s disease.9


People affected by psoriasis are known to suffer psychological distress and experience reduced self-esteem that is generated from fear of public rejection and stigmatisation.  Many studies have documented higher rates of depression and anxiety among people with psoriasis compared to the general population.8,9
  • Approximately 1 in 3 patients experience depression and anxiety7
  • One third of psoriasis patients have problems with loved ones10

LEO Pharma UK/IE is committed to empowering people who have psoriasis to have the confidence to take control of their lives by giving them a voice. These were amongst the reasons why we established the Voices in Partnership (ViP) Programme, an initiative to bring together people with the conditions that we treat in order to enable LEO Pharma UK/IE to better understand how the conditions affect day-to-day living. This knowledge helps to shape joint initiatives and outcomes to best represent those who we aim to help.


The work that we do at LEO Pharma UK/IE goes beyond treating symptoms, with a focus also on the holistic impacts of conditions. We understand that the emotional and day-to-day impact of living with psoriasis can be as damaging as the physiological effect, which is why we launched QualityCare™, providing free resources and confidential advice which encourage people with psoriasis to rethink how they can best manage and treat their condition.

Within QualityCare™ is Mindboost, a customisable stress-reduction programme of physical and mental exercises for psoriasis sufferers, with the exercises grouped into three areas: confidence, mood and focus. Mindboost was developed in collaboration with Marie-Amélie de Potter, an anti-stress consultant with over 20 years of experience in stress management initiatives. 

“I found the exercises reduced my symptoms and empowered me to let go of my worries about my skin. I also found them very relaxing, which made me better at coping with stress. And I believe that of course that had a beneficial effect on my condition. I never believed in these kinds of techniques before but they’ve helped me enormously”.

Filip, MindBoost user.
1.  Psoriasis Association, Psoriasis Association Website, “About Psoriasis”, Available from:, Last accessed: February 2017
2.  Irish Skin Foundation, The Burden of Psoriasis: Epidemiology, Quality of Life, Co-morbidities and treatment goals. Available from: Last accessed: February 2017
3.  International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) website. “Our cause.” Available from:  Last Accessed: February 2017
4.  Cole, G., Psoriasis: what are psoriasis symptoms and signs? What does psoriasis look like?, MedicineNet. Available from:, Last accessed: February 2017
5.  Bajorek Z, et al. (2016) The Work Foundation, the impact of long term conditions on employment and the wider UK economy.  
6.  Dubertret, L. et al. (2006). EUROPSO Patient Survey Group. European patient perspectives on the impact of psoriasis: the EUROPSO patient membership survey. Br J Dermatol, 155(4):729-36
7.  Bajorek Z, et al. (2016) The Work Foundation, the impact of long term conditions on employment and the wider UK economy.  
8.  National Psoriasis Foundation. Life with psoriasis: Managing itch. Available from: , Last accessed: February 2017 
9.  WHO, report on Psoriasis, 2013. Available from: Last accessed: February 2017
10. Sampogna, F. et al. (2012). Living with psoriasis: prevalence of shame, anger, worry, and problems in daily activities and social life. Acta Derm Venereol. 92:299-303
11. Dubertret, L. et al. (2006). EUROPSO Patient Survey Group. European patient perspectives on the impact of psoriasis: the EUROPSO patient membership survey. Br J Dermatol, 155(4):729-36

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