How to treat penile psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a common autoimmune disease and affects around 2.2 per cent of the population, about 1 in 50 people. Psoriasis on the penis or scrotum is just one form of this chronic, inflammatory, non-contagious skin condition. Men are more likely than women to have plaque-type psoriasis on the genitals. Men should overcome embarrassment and disclose their penile psoriasis to their GP because there are effective treatments.

Be upfront with your sexual partner even before you start looking at treatments. Assure them it is not contagious. Wearing a condom during sex will preserve lubricants and prevent skin on the penis from becoming more inflamed. Affected areas can become more red and noticeable after intercourse.

Penile psoriasis can occur on its own, but it usually occurs in conjunction with plaque-type psoriasis on other parts of the body. It's therefore important to treat penile psoriasis as part of the overall condition.

Ask your GP about topical steroids. They are usually effective and doctors typically use lower potency steroids. Doctors are more likely to treat inverse psoriasis which appears in the folds of the skin and the perianal region. Doctors usually start with a mild to medium-potency topical steroid, as the skin in these areas is usually thinner and more likely to develop side effects such as thinning and stretch marks.

Avoid using coal tar or anthralin products on the penis because they can irritate sensitive skin.

Consider ultraviolet (UV) treatment. Doctors most often use topical and UV light for penile psoriasis. They rarely prescribe systemic treatments for penile psoriasis alone.

Expect a positive outcome. Genital psoriasis of all kinds generally responds well to treatment.

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