What does Pso feel like?

Psoriasis (Pso) is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease, and its effects can go far beyond skin.1 As well as causing pain, discomfort, itching and resulting insomnia, it can also make sufferers feel very unhappy.2 A study comparing psoriasis to other prominent conditions found its mental and physical impact comparable to that seen in cancer, heart disease and depression3 – 37% of people with Pso have experienced suicidal thoughts.4 Perhaps this is partly because many face
social exclusion and discrimination because of their condition.5 If you have Pso and are feeling low, whether or not this is because your symptoms aren’t under control, please speak to your doctor so that your physical or mental health, or both, can be treated.



Try replacing soap and shower gels with moisturising creams, such as emollients6


If you suffer from Pso, you may already know that it can be unpredictable and leave you not knowing where you stand.7 Pso inflammation is always there, even if you can’t see it, so at times, your symptoms may seem under control, but at other times not.7,8 You may suffer mildly at one point, and more severely at another.7 If you feel that your Pso isn’t under control, or you’re noticing any new symptoms,9 it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional – we’ve put together some tips to help you. Around a third of people with Pso will also develop psoriatic arthritis,9,10 so speak to your doctor if you have painful, stiff, swollen joints, painful tendons, or swollen fingers or toes.10 Your doctor is there to help you, and make sure you’re on the right treatment for you.11


  • Might feel like a burning/stinging sensation12
  • Can make it difficult to concentrate, relax, sleep, or enjoy what you’re doing2,13

  • Red, inflamed ‘plaques’ or patches of skin can be scaly, itchy and painful12
  • Can appear anywhere on the body11,12
  • Might be a few at a time or many, close together or far apart12
  • May seem to disappear and then come back7

  • Flakes of skin can fall off any areas where you have Pso plaques or patches14
  • These flakes are not contagious14

Top tips to soothe itching, plaques and flaking >

Pso severity checker

If your doctor has already diagnosed you with plaque psoriasis, part of learning about your condition is understanding how severely your body surface is affected. Wondering how much of your body surface is affected by your Pso?12 To work it out, use one hand as a guide – it represents roughly 1% of the total body area.12 So, if you think the plaques on your body cover the equivalent of 5 hands, that equals 5% of your body. But remember, even if your Pso doesn’t affect much of your body surface, it may still be considered severe if the parts it does affect are very inflamed or feel very thick or scaly, or if it has a big impact on your quality of life.12.15 

How severe do you think your Pso is?

Can you fit your hand over your psoriasis less than 3 times?

If so, less than 3% of your body surface is affected by Pso

You may have mild psoriasis12


Can you fit your hand over your psoriasis more than 3 times but less then 10 times? 

If so, between 3% and 10% of your body surface is affected by Pso

You may have moderate psoriasis12


Can you fit your hand over your psoriasis more than 10 times? 

If so, over 10% of your body surface is affected by Pso

You may have severe psoriasis12


Want to make the most of your doctor's appointment?

If you are experiencing symptoms, or don’t feel that your treatment is controlling your Pso, please speak to your healthcare professional.16 Take a look at our helpful tips to help you have a productive conversation during your next appointment.

Speaking to your doctor >


How is Pso diagnosed? >


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1.    Tohid H, et al. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2016;29:220–30.
2.    National Psoriasis Foundation. Tips for better sleep with psoriatic disease. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/tips-for-better-sleep-with-psoriatic-disease Accessed June 2020.
3.    Rapp SR, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol 1999;41:401–7.
4.    Pompili M, et al. J Int Med Res 2016;44(1 suppl):61–6.
5.    World Health Organization. Global report on psoriasis. 2016. Available at: apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/204417/1/9789241565189_eng.pdf. Accessed June 2020.
6.    PAPAA. Emollients and psoriasis. Available at: https://www.papaa.org/learn-about-psoriasis-and-psoriatic-arthritis/further-information/emollients-and-psoriasis/ Accessed: June 2020.
7.    AAD. How long will I have to treat my psoriasis? Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/treatment/medications/how-long Accessed: June 2020.
8.    Rendon A and Schäkel K. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar; 20(6): 1475.
9.    Bagel J, Schwartzman S. Am J Clin Dermatol 2018;19:839-852.
10.    National Psoriasis Foundation. About psoriatic arthritis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriatic-arthritis Accessed: June 2020.
11.    PAPAA. Psoriasis: a simple explanation. Available at: https://www.papaa.org/learn-about-psoriasis-and-psoriatic-arthritis/common-questions/psoriasis-a-simple-explanation/ Accessed: June 2020.
12.    National Psoriasis Foundation. About psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis. Accessed June 2020.
13.    Globe D, et al. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2009,7:62.
14.    NHS. Psoriasis overview. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/ Accessed: June 2020.
15.    DermNet. Guidelines for the teratment of psoriasis. Available at: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/guidelines-for-the-treatment-of-psoriasis/ Accessed: July 2020.
16.    NHS. Living with psoriasis. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/living-with/ Accessed: June 2020.