It's the National Psoriasis Awareness Week and a chance to shed light on this painful skin problem. This is ANGELA KELLY talking to a sufferer.
PSORIASIS is not a laughing topic for Manchester comedian Toby Hadoke.
The well-known actor, writer and presenter began the condition, which at age eleven causes red, scaly, crusty patches on the skin, and at 44, he is still prone to breakouts.
"I had a bad sore throat and was treated with penicillin and the doctors thought it was a bad reaction," Toby said. "But my mother – a former nurse at Guy's hospital who read medical books – did not think that was so, and let her look at it again. Then it was diagnosed as psoriasis. "
The most common form of the disease is plaque psoriasis, which accounts for between 80 and 90 percent of all cases. These are often painful and itchy, flaky areas that can occur on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back of the affected person.
The disease affects about two percent of the British population. It can start at any age, but usually develops in adults under 35 years old.
Psoriais is a long-term (chronic) disease that ranges from a minor irritation for some to extreme impairment of others' quality of life. It involves the increased production of skin cells and is related to the body's immune system that works against it.
"If something goes wrong, the alarms are triggered and the shutters shut down – a complete over-kill," explains Toby.
A trauma, skin injury or illness can be the trigger. In Toby's case, it was a bad sore throat – something that can still cause him to have a severe onset of psoriasis.
Unfortunately, he gets the spots all over his body, even on his scalp. He had two red spots on both sides of his nose for years, which he considered very noticeable until a specialist diagnosed them as seborrheic dermatitis and prescribed a steroid cream that would get rid of them.
He has been using all kinds of creams from his family doctor over the years, and had times when his skin was very painful, "although I usually got used to it," of course, all very visually ".
Psoriasis can be very itchy and scratching leads to dander. "I sometimes have a small pile of skin next to me and wonder why people are staring," Toby added.
The condition is not contagious, but "it can sometimes look pretty awful and people say things without really thinking – which I fully understand," Toby said.
Experts at the Royal Free Hospital in London helped him a lot. Now he has an injection every two weeks. "In fact, I am amazed at how good my skin is right now," he said.
He knows, however, that not only can he have an outbreak at any time, but also that his skin can be ill and can affect those affected like him mentally.
Toby works with the Psoriasis Association UK on various boards and is a positive spokesperson for fellow sufferers. "I think patients need to know that it's right to talk about how they think about their psoriasis," he commented. "And they need to be able to ask their doctor about different creams.
"We can all expect to feel that our psoriasis has control over us knowing that we are in control."
For more information, contact the Psoriasis Association UK at 01604 251620 or https://www.psoriasis-association.org.uk/