Your Skin

Diagnosing and managing psoriasis

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

9% of people with axial SpA also develop psoriasis

Psoriasis is an immune condition, which causes symptoms on the skin.

When a person has psoriasis, their skin replacement process speeds up, taking just a few days to replace skin cells that usually take 21-28 days. This accumulation of skin cells builds up to form raised ‘plaques’ on the skin, which can also be flaky, scaly, red and itchy.

The condition is not infectious and most people are affected only in small patches on their body.

The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some people it is just a minor irritation, but for others it has a major impact on their quality of life. Psoriasis is a long-lasting condition that can return at any time. There may be times when you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms followed by times when the symptoms are severe.

Psoriasis treatment

There is no cure for psoriasis, but there is a wide variety of treatments and many people find that their psoriasis can be managed successfully. However, finding the right treatment or combination of treatments can be a process of trial and error.

Most people with psoriasis start their treatment under the guidance of a GP with creams or ointments (topical treatments). If your psoriasis is severe, or if various types of topical treatments don’t work, you should be referred to a dermatologist. Options a dermatologist would have to treat your psoriasis would include:

  • Ultraviolet light therapy
  • Medications such as methotrexate, ciclosporin, acitretin and apremilast
  • Biologic therapy. Some biologics used for axial SpA can also help psoriasis.

Learn more

Learn more about psoriasis in this Facebook Live with Dom Urmston, Patient Advocacy and Communications Manager for the Psoriasis Association

Consultant Rheumatologist Professor Karl Gaffney ran a Facebook live about other conditions axial SpA can cause, including psoriasis:

Help and support

The Psoriasis Association is a charity that provides help and support for people with psoriasis.

Their helpline number is 01604 251 620 or you can Whatsapp 07387 716439 (Monday to Friday 0900-1600) You can also contact them by email

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