May 30, 2024

Medicine is always advancing, often by discovering links between two areas of interest. We now know that good health is linked to clean water and sanitation, smoking is linked to cancer and sun exposure is linked to melanoma.

Recently, we discovered another important link that explains how a skin-only disease (psoriasis) develops into a skin-and-joint disease (psoriatic arthritis).

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease affecting the skin. These can occur anywhere on your skin, including your scalp, hands, feet, nails and genitals. It usually begins in young adulthood with 75% of patients developing it before the age of 45.

  • Psoriasis symptoms may include:
  • Thick red or silvery scaly patches of skin
  • Itchy skin (in some cases)
  • Dry or cracked skin
  • Thickened and ridged fingernails and toenails.

Psoriasis treatment aims to control the condition and ease symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • Skin creams or ointments, including steroids, vitamins and retinoids
  • Light therapy including UV phototherapy and photochemotherapy
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle changes such as:
    • Regularly moisturising your skin
    • Reducing stress
    • Eating a healthy diet
    • Not smoking
    • Limiting your alcohol consumption.

Learn more about psoriasis

In late 2023, Australians gained subsidised access to a new psoriasis drug. Listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in October 2023. It is a selective allosteric tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor taken as a once-a-day tablet. It eases psoriasis symptoms by reducing the overactive immune response that causes excessive skin cell production.

It needs to be prescribed by a dermatologist initially but your GP can then write repeat prescriptions as needed.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

About 30% of people with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis.

Signs of psoriatic arthritis may include:

  • Pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints
  • Inflammation of your spine leading to pain and stiffness in the buttocks, lower back and neck
  • Pain and redness in your eyes
  • Pain in your tendons, such as at the back of your heel or the soles of your feet
  • Discolouration or thickening of your nails.

New research into the link between psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune diseases. These occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, damaging your body in the process.

Recently, scientists at The Australian National University in Canberra have made a breakthrough discovery.

Their research has shown that patients with psoriasis have a mutation in their IKBKB gene. Patients who develop psoriatic arthritis have two copies of this mutated gene. This is a world-first discovery that explains how psoriasis progresses to psoriatic arthritis and helps identify which patients are at risk.

Join a clinical trial

As mentioned above, medicine is always evolving. Researchers will continue to investigate psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, deepening our understanding and paving the way for new therapies.

You can be part of that. In many cases, research relies on patients participating in clinical trials that assess the effectiveness of new treatments or protocols. Clinical trials often lead to new interventions becoming available that help people to live longer and to have less pain or disability.

We’re currently running two plaque psoriasis clinical trials. Participation is free and we’ll reimburse you for your time and travel expenses. If you’d be interested in participating in a clinical trial, please visit our trials page.

How can we help?

Sinclair Dermatology is a leading dermatology centre and our doctors are skilled in supporting patients with psoriasis. We understand its physical and psychological impact and offer innovative, evidence-based treatment options to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

If you would like our help, please contact us.

All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


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