18 January 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Resources for you
To help you live well with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis during the pandemic, we've put together the following resources:
- Preparing for a virtual consultation
- Hints and tips for coming out of isolation
- Hints and tips for coping well with the COVID-19 pandemic from Professor Chris Bundy
- Eating well during this challenging time
- Video - Professor Griffiths on COVID-19 and psoriasis (recorded on 30th March 2020)
Preparing for a virtual consultation
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that more people than ever are having their healthcare appointments held by telephone or video. For many, this is a completely new experience and it can be a little disconcerting having to rely on technology when you’re used to seeing your doctor or nurse face-to-face. While many aspects of a virtual appointment will be the same as in-person, others (including the technology itself) will be different, which is why we’ve put this resource together.
The tips have been divided into two sections: those to bear in mind in advance of your appointment; and those to consider during the appointment itself. We hope they will be helpful, whether your next appointment is with a GP, nurse, dermatologist or rheumatologist. If you have any tips of your own that you think we should add to the resource, please do get in touch and let us know.
Click here to view the top tips resource
Hints and tips for coming out of isolation
While going into isolation was worrying, coming out of isolation can also cause anxiety for many people. Everyone is different and some people need more support than others.
This is a troubling time for everyone and it is normal to worry about what lockdown and isolation means for you and your family. It only becomes a big problem when it stops you doing things you need to and has an impact on the rest of your life.
With the help of Professor Chris Bundy (Professor in Behavioural Medicine at Cardiff University), we've produced a resource with hints and tips designed to help you manage fear or worry and keep it in proportion so you can go about doing the things you need to do.
Click here to the view the tips resource
Hints and tips for coping well with the COVID-19 pandemic from Professor Chris Bundy
With the current Coronavirus outbreak dominating the headlines it is not surprising that people are feeling anxious and worried about what may happen next. For some people with psoriasis, stress can make the condition flare, so looking after your psychological wellbeing is as important as caring for your physical health.
With this in mind, we have teamed up with Professor Chris Bundy (Professor in Behavioural Medicine at Cardiff University) to create a resource for people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis on how to manage their worry about their condition and its treatment, as well as their concerns about COVID-19.
The tips cover a range of topics including managing your worry, expressing worry and anxiety, coping with isolation and when to access help and support. There is also a daily schedule, to help people to structure their day and stay engaged and active whilst spending more time at home.
Click below to access the relevant documents;
Hints and tips for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
Eating well during this challenging time
In this challenging time, it is understandable that people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis may be concerned about their diet or have questions about nutritional issues. If you are stressed or outside of your usual routine then your diet can suffer, but it's important to try and maintain a healthy, balanced diet for your general health and wellbeing if possible.
Using information from the British Dietetic Association, we've put together a handy resource to help you continue to eat well. The tips included range from supporting your immune system to planning your food shops, and considering how you store and use your food.
Download the resource here
Video - Professor Griffiths on COVID-19 and psoriasis (recorded on 30th March 2020)
The current situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) has created a significant amount of uncertainty for us all. Now more than ever, access to clear and accurate information is vital to help us to make informed decisions about our own health and wellbeing. With that in mind, we're honoured to bring you information from a world-leading psoriasis expert, Professor Chris Griffiths (Professor of Dermatology at the University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust).
In the video below, our Chief Executive, Helen McAteer, puts some of your most frequently asked questions about psoriasis and COVID-19 to Professor Griffiths.
Please note that the information in this video is correct as of 30th March 2020.
COVID-19 vaccine and psoriasis
The COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against coronavirus. Three vaccines for COVID-19 have currently been approved for use in the UK: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine; and the Moderna vaccine. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are already being given to people at sites across the UK. The Moderna vaccine has only recently been approved and is not expected to be available in the UK until Spring 2021.
While this is certainly cause for optimism, it’s completely understandable that people who are taking immunosuppressive drugs for their psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis may have some concerns about whether or not it is safe for them to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
We’ve put the following information together to try and address some of the concerns you may have. It’s important to note that we are learning more about both COVID-19 itself and the different vaccines that are being developed all the time. We will ensure that this section is updated regularly as further information is released.
For general information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the NHS website.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine suitable for people with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis?
Yes, current evidence suggests that the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all suitable for people who are living with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. Therefore, having psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, or taking prescribed medicines to treat your condition will not affect whether or not you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or which vaccine is best for you.
Is a COVID-19 vaccine likely to affect my psoriasis?
There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are bad for psoriasis (or likely to make it worse, or flare), hence why people are encouraged to have the flu vaccine each year. At this stage, scientists are having to extrapolate data from other vaccines such as the flu vaccine and can see no reason why the COVID-19 vaccine would be any different in terms of flaring/causing psoriasis from, say, the flu vaccine. Systematic reviews have not found evidence that (non-live) vaccines are bad for psoriasis.
Is it safe for people who are taking immunosuppressant medication to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all considered suitable for people who are living with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis regardless of whether they are receiving drugs that affect the immune system (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example) or not.
People who are receiving drugs which affect the immune system are not able to receive live (also known as 'attenuated') vaccines, however the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are not live vaccines. Non-live vaccines can generally be given safely to people receiving drugs that affect the immune system (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example), however further study is required to understand how well the vaccines work in the context of these medications.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be effective in people who are taking immunosuppressant medication?
The only uncertainty we have with the COVID-19 vaccines is whether they will be as effective in people who are taking immunosuppressive medications (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example). Trials to date have not included people taking drugs that affect the immune system and thus vaccine efficacy in this specific population will need to be established.
When will I be offered the COVID-19 vaccine?
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, which can be found here.
If I have been shielding, should I continue to shield after I have received the COVID-19 vaccine?
Current government advice for people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 (people in the shielding group) is that, even if you have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to follow shielding advice until further notice, while the impact of vaccination continues to be assessed.
Will data be collected on the effect of the COVID-19 vaccines on people with psoriasis?
Registry data such as that from the British Association of Dermatologists Biologics and Immunomodulators Register (BADBIR) and PsoProtect should be collected to inform whether the COVID-19 vaccines either positively or negatively affect psoriasis outcomes. In addition, if you have psoriasis yourself, you can self-report to the PsoProtectMe study (whether you have had COVID-19 or not). If you do experience COVID-19 infection then you can also ask your healthcare professional to report this to the PsoProtect registry.
If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you can report any suspected side effects via the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available from the NHS here.
Information from the British Society for Immunology about the different types of vaccines for COVID-19 and how they work can be found here.
The British Association of Dermatologists has also issued an FAQs document addressing COVID-19 vaccination for immunosuppressed patients, which can be found here.
Am I at higher risk of catching COVID-19 if I have psoriasis?
There is currently no evidence to suggest that people with psoriasis are at any more or less risk of catching COVID-19 than the rest of the population. As such, you should follow the same precautions as issued by the NHS.
What about if I take immunosuppressant medication?
As far as we are aware, if you take an immunosuppressant medication (e.g. methotrexate and ciclosporin) or biologics to treat your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you may be at extra risk of complications from the virus if you are infected. The specific risk for each individual depends on a number of factors, including: which immunosuppressant medications you are taking; whether you are taking just one of these medications, or more than one; and whether you are also living with other medical issues. You can find out more in our 'shielding' section.
It is not necessary for you to stop taking your systemic/biologic medication unless specifically told to do so by your prescriber (e.g. dermatologist, rheumatologist, or biologics nurse), and actually to do so could cause a flare in your condition.
If you do have concerns about continuing your medication, you should speak to your prescriber about the risks and benefits before deciding whether or not to stop your treatment.
If you are taking an immunosuppressant medication for psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, and you do develop the symptoms of an infection or virus (such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) you should follow the latest NHS advice and consult your prescriber on whether or not to continue taking your medication.
If at any stage you do need to seek treatment for the symptoms of COVID-19, it is a good idea to make a note of the different medicines you take and the different conditions that you have, and give this to the healthcare staff who are treating you.
The following guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Government may be helpful for reference. They are based on the latest evidence and expert opinion, and have been verified as far as possible.
From the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE):
COVID-19 rapid guideline: dermatological conditions treated with drugs affecting the immune response
COVID-19 rapid guideline: rheumatological autoimmune, inflammatory and metabolic bone disorders
COVID-19 rapid guideline: children and young people who are immunocompromised
From the Scottish Government:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Important advice for people with dermatological conditions (not cancerous)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Important advice for people with rheumatic conditions
How can I lower the risk of catching COVID-19?
For the most up-to-date advice on COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you should read the following guidance from:
- The NHS (UK)
- The UK Government (UK)
- The Northern Ireland Executive (Northern Ireland)
- The Scottish Government (Scotland)
- The Welsh Government (Wales)
According to the latest NHS guidance, to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with. This is called social distancing. Social distancing guidance should be followed as a minimum in all areas of the UK, however further restrictions are currently in place too. You can find out more about the current guidance in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales below.
In England, national lockdown rules currently apply and you should stay at home. You must not leave or be outside of your home except where necessary. This guidance is the law.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
You cannot meet other people you do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason, and you should stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
You can find out more about instances where you may leave your home here.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.
Certain households can have close contact with one other household (of any size) without social distancing. This is called a support bubble. The eligibility criteria for forming a support bubble was widened on 2nd December 2020. You can find the latest criteria here.
On mainland Scotland, lockdown rules currently apply and you should stay at home by law, except for essential purposes. Certain islands remain under COVID protection level 3, a list of which you can find here.
A list of reasonable excuses for leaving your home in areas of Scotland which fall under the lockdown rules can be found here. Although you can leave home for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible.
You should shop online or use local shops and services wherever you can. Travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way. To minimise the risk of spread of Coronavirus it is crucial that everyone avoids unnecessary travel.
Up to 2 people from 2 separate households can meet outdoors for sport, exercise or social interaction. Children under 12 do not count towards households or numbers when meeting outside and do not need to maintain physical distance from others indoors or outdoors.
People at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance.
If you live alone, you're a single parent who lives with children under the age of 18 (i.e. if there is only one adult in your home), or you are in a relationship, but don't live with your partner, you may still form an 'extended household' with the members of 1 other household (of any size).
In Northern Ireland, lockdown rules currently apply and you must stay at home. Nobody may leave their home without a reasonable excuse, examples of which you can find here.
The current regulations are in place until Saturday 6th February, but will be reviewed on Thursday 21st January.
Visits to food shops, pharmacies and other essential stores should be limited and as seldom as possible. Be organised and only buy what you need. You do not need to stockpile goods as supply chains are secure.
Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes or outdoors in private gardens, except with their support bubble. Each household is still permitted to form a 'support bubble' with one other household of any size. However, both indoor meetings and meetings in private gardens between households in the bubble are limited to a maximum of 10 people, including children, at any one time.
You can leave your home to exercise in a public outdoor place by yourself, with the people you live with, with your bubble, or, when on your own, with one person from another household.
Up to six people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors, or in non-domestic indoor settings for a permitted reason. You should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) people who are working and are unable to do so from home are advised not to attend the workplace.
All of Wales is currently in lockdown (alert level 4) and you must stay at home except for very limited purposes, examples of which can be found here.
You may leave your home as often as you like to exercise, alone or with members of your household or support bubble. There are no limits on the distance you can travel during exercise, though the nearer you stay to your home, the better. Your exercise should start and finish from your home and generally, this should not involve people driving to a location away from home, unless there is a reason, such as a specific health condition or mobility issue, that would require driving to the nearest convenient, accessible location.
The 'extended household' scheme is currently suspended in Wales, however if you are an adult living alone or are in a household with a single responsible adult, you can form a support bubble with one other household.
It's very important to do what you can to reduce the risk of you and other people getting ill with coronavirus. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.
To stop COVID-19 from spreading, you should:
- Try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)
- Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
- Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Emollients can be applied following hand sanitiser use if necessary
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Let fresh air into your home by opening windows, doors and air vents as much as possible
- Wear something that covers your nose and mouth when on public transport, in shops, and when you go to a hospital appointment, or to visit someone in hospital. If you can, also wear a face covering in other places when it's hard to stay away from people.
- Not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
There is separate advice about:
What to do if you're at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
Shielding and advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable
There is specific advice which is intended to protect people who are deemed to be 'clinically extremely vulnerable' to severe illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19 by minimising their interaction with others. If you fall into this ‘clinically extremely vulnerable' category, you should previously have been contacted directly by the NHS or your GP to advise you of this. The latest guidance for 'clinically extremely vulnerable' individuals in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can be found below.
What is the current guidance for people who are 'clinically extremely vulnerable'?
In England, national lockdown restrictions currently apply and, as such, clinically extremely vulnerable people are being advised to shield once again.
You can find the full shielding guidance here, and links to specific sections of the guidance below:
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will get priority access to vaccination against COVID-19 before the general population and in line with the priority ordering set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). You will be contacted again by the NHS with more information on when and how you will be invited to get the vaccine.
Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, the Government advises that you should continue to follow the shielding advice until further notice while the impact of vaccination continues to be assessed. The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, including if you have received the vaccine and also if they have received the vaccine.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme remains available to help support those who need it. Volunteers can collect and deliver shopping, medication and other essential supplies, help with a regular, friendly phone call, and provide transport to and from medical appointments. Call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week to self-refer or visit www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk for further information.
Wales is currently in lockdown (alert level 4) and, as such, clinically extremely vulnerable people are being advised not to attend work or school outside the home. The Welsh Government is writing to everyone on the Shielding Patient List to confirm this advice.
You are encouraged to still go outside to exercise and attend medical appointments, and you may remain as part of a support bubble, but you must stay at home as much as possible.
You can find the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people here, and links to specific sections of the guidance below:
Priority supermarket delivery slots continue to be available to people who are considered extremely vulnerable. If you need further support and you do not have family, friends or neighbours to help you, you should contact your local council.
In Northern Ireland, lockdown rules currently apply and clinically extremely vulnerable people who are working and are unable to do so from home are now advised not to attend the workplace. The Chief Medical Officer will write to clinically extremely vulnerable people to advise of this change.
This is advice only. People are free to make their own judgements about whether or not they should attend work, depending on the COVID-security of their working environment. However, the general restrictions which apply to everyone must be followed.
This is not a return to shielding as it was previously. clinically extremely vulnerable people are not being advised not stay permanently indoors, and are encouraged to continue to go outside for exercise, provided they observe social distancing when they do so.
You can find the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people here, and links to specific sections of the guidance below:
- Keeping safe
- Going to shops and pharmacies
- Care support
- Mental health support
- COVID-19 community helpline
The current regulations are in place until Saturday 6th February, but will be reviewed on Thursday 21st January.
A free helpline is available to those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and support in relation to COVID-19, between 9am and 5pm on Monday to Friday. You can access the helpline by phone on 0808 802 0020, email at email@example.com, by texting ACTION to 81025, or by completing this form on the Advice NI website.
How do I know whether or not I am in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' category?
If you fall into the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable' category, you should previously have been contacted directly by the NHS or your GP to advise you of this.
If you are only taking a single medication that affects your immune system and have no other medical issues, it is unlikely that you will fall into the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category (highest risk), but you may still be 'clinically vulnerable' (higher risk).
We have put together the following information to help make it clearer for people who are living with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis whether or not they fall into this ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category. If you think you fall into this category but you have not received a letter or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
In psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, people who are 'clinically extremely vulnerable', and at the highest clinical risk from COVID-19 include:
- People who have any of the medical conditions on this list from the UK Government (whether they also have psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis or not).
- People who are taking TWO or more immunosuppressive or biologic medicines (please see the list below) for their psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (except a single biologic in combination with methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine or sulphasalazine).
- People who take either Infliximab originator (Remicade) or biosimilars (e.g. Flixabi, Inflectra, Remsima, Zessly), which are given by infusion.
- People who take ONE immunosuppressive or biologic medicine (or a biologic combined with methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine or sulphasalazine) who are ALSO 'clinically vulnerable'.
A list of the immunosuppressive and biologic medicines used for psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis:
- Immunosuppressive medications: Ciclosporin, Fumaric Acid Esters (FAE, Fumaderm and Skilarence – Dimethyl Fumarate), Leflunomide, Methotrexate. This does NOT include Acitretin or Sulphasalazine.
- Biologics: Any Adalimumab biosimilar (e.g. Amgevita, Hulio, Hyrimoz, Imraldi) or Adalimumab originator (Humira), Anakinra (Kineret), Cimzia (Certolizumab pegol), Cosentyx (Secukinumab), Etanercept originator (Enbrel) or Etanercept biosimilars (e.g. Benepali, Erelzi), Ilumetri (Tildrakizumab), Kyntheum (Brodalumab), Infliximab originator (Remicade) or Infliximab biosimilar (e.g. Flixabi, Inflectra, Remsima, Zessly), Simponi (Golimumab), Skyrizi (Risankizumab), Stelara (Ustekinumab), Taltz (Ixekizumab), Tremfya (Guselkumab)
- Small molecule immunosuppressants: Otezla (Apremilast), JAK inhibitors e.g. Xeljanz (Tofacitinib)
'Clinically vulnerable' - at a higher clinical risk from COVID-19 (but not the highest risk):
You will be moved up to the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' list ONLY if you meet any of the following criteria AND you are recommended to do so by your clinician:
You are not in either of the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' or the 'clinically vulnerable' categories, but you must continue to follow the latest NHS advice, including social distancing measures, as per the rest of the UK population, if you are taking any of the following medications, either alone or in combination:
- Topical skin treatments (creams, gels etc.)
The British Association of Dermatologists has put together a useful risk stratification grid, which can be found here.
If you have psoriatic arthritis, you may also find this risk stratification guide from the British Society for Rheumatology useful if you are taking an immunosuppressant medication and you are unsure whether or not you fall into the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' category.
Finally, full guidance on shielding and protecting people who are 'clinically extremely vulnerable' from COVID-19 can be found here:
What if frequent handwashing irritates my psoriasis?
Unfortunately it is likely that increased handwashing will have an impact on people with psoriasis on their hands. In order to minimise this impact, we have compiled the advice below;
Wash hands with soap and water, then re-wash with an emollient soap substitute
You should follow government guidance and wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. You may find it helpful to wash them a second time with an emollient soap substitute to help moisturise the skin and prevent it from drying and cracking. A list of soap substitutes or emollient cleaners can be obtained from the Psoriasis Association.
Dry hands gently, and moisturise them afterwards
Keep tubes of moisturiser by the sink at home, as well as in your handbag or pocket.
Wear cotton gloves with moisturiser at night
Cotton gloves can help moisturiser to penetrate the skin and work more effectively, so consider purchasing a pair and wearing at night, or whilst at home.
Use gloves when washing up
Use plastic or rubber gloves with cotton linings when doing the washing up or hand washing clothes, this will help to prevent unnecessary drying resulting from activities other than washing your hands.
Wear gloves during cold weather
Wear warm gloves when you go out in cold weather, as the cold can be particularly drying to the skin.
Wearing rings, watches and other jewellery may aggravate your skin if your psoriasis is already sore from handwashing. Try removing your jewellery for a few days, and see what effect (if any) this has.
Handwashing instructions from the NHS can be found here.
Guidance on face coverings and avoiding irritation of psoriasis
As part of the gradual changes in restrictions, people across the UK are being asked to wear a face covering (something which safely covers the nose and mouth) in certain places where social distancing is very difficult or not possible. However, the specific guidance varies in different parts of the UK. You can find links to the specific guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales below. Each nation's guidance covers instances in which face coverings must be worn, as well as any exemptions.
- Northern Ireland
Exemption card templates are available for people who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering and may feel more comfortable showing something that states this. However, this is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.
Why are we being advised to wear a face covering?
While evidence suggests that face coverings will not protect you against COVID-19, when used correctly they may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others if you are infected but do not know it. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this.
Young children or individuals who find it difficult to wear face coverings, such as people with breathing difficulties or primary school children who cannot use a covering without help, are not advised to wear them.
Wearing a face covering
A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It should fit securely to the side of the face and be secured to the head with ties or ear loops. It should be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton, and ideally include at least 2 layers of fabric.
You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. The government has provided advice on how to wear and make your own face covering, which can be found here.
When applying a face covering, it is important that you wash your hands first (or use hand sanitiser) and avoid touching your face. Once applied, you should avoid wearing it on your neck or forehead and avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus.
After each use, you should wash or sanitise your hands before removing the covering, using only the straps, ties or ear loops, and put it in a plastic bag for washing or safe disposal. You should then wash or sanitise your hands again. If you plan to re-use the face covering, it should be washed in soap or detergent first, at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric.
You can find more detailed instructions on how to wear and remove a face covering here.
Face coverings and psoriasis
If you feel that your face covering is irritating your psoriasis, you could try the following:
- Make sure that the covering is made of a breathable fabric that your skin can tolerate. As with many aspects of psoriasis, this may be a process of trial and error.
- Whilst the covering needs to be secure, make sure that it is not rubbing or causing injury to the skin as this could trigger psoriasis through Koebner’s phenomenon.
- Finding the right face covering to lessen irritation may be a process of trial and error. Some people may find wearing a scarf more comfortable if it is for short periods. Or, if you have psoriasis behind your ears it may help to use an extender or adapter to relieve the pressure and attach the covering behind the head. Alternatively, a face covering which ties around the back of the head may be helpful.
- Keep your skin clean and well moisturised
- Wash the covering after each use with a detergent that doesn’t irritate your skin.
- Try to take regular breaks from wearing the face covering.
- Try to avoid wearing make up in the area under the face covering.
- If your psoriasis worsens speak to your doctor about your treatment options.
For further information and advice on scalp or facial psoriasis, please do get in contact with us.
What research is taking place? Introducing PsoProtect and PsoProtectMe
In the video below, psoriasis experts, Professor Catherine Smith and Dr Satveer Mahil of St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London introduce PsoProtectMe – a new survey to support vital research into COVID-19 and psoriasis.
Questions answered in this video include:
- What is PsoProtectMe, and why is it important? (0:20)
- Who should take part in PsoProtectMe? (1:25)
- How can people take part and what will they need to do? (2:17)
- Can patients revisit the survey if they catch COVID-19 after completing it initially? (4:12)
- How will participants’ data be stored and can they withdraw it if they change their mind at a later date? (5:02)
The Psoriasis Association is honoured to be collaborating once more with world leading experts on psoriasis at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London and the University of Manchester on a vital piece of research regarding psoriasis and COVID-19 (coronavirus).
PsoProtectMe is an online survey for people with psoriasis to complete, irrespective of whether you have symptoms of COVID-19 or not.
We are asking everyone with psoriasis to complete this important online survey, or to ask a friend or family member to complete it on your behalf. The online PsoProtectMe survey takes only 5-10 minutes to complete and asks about your symptoms, psoriasis treatments and any underlying health conditions you may have. If you have suffered from COVID-19, you will be asked how this has affected you and your psoriasis. If in the future you develop COVID-19 we would ask that you revisit the survey (you will be provided with a unique reference number at the end) and let us know of your experience.
Please do complete the survey irrespective of the type or severity of psoriasis you have, whether you are currently treating your psoriasis or not. We need all ages to complete the survey in order to build an accurate picture.
Your information will help us understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people with psoriasis, and whether the treatments used for psoriasis increase or decrease the risk of severe COVID-19 infection. This will help healthcare professionals make important decisions about the clinical care of people with psoriasis during the pandemic. Which is why, even if you are well and have not had any symptoms of COVID-19 we really need you to answer this survey call. It could be that your treatment is beneficial in helping protect people from COVID-19 or it could be that one type, or severity of psoriasis affects the body’s response to this virus.
Your contribution will benefit everyone – please help by completing the PsoProtectMe survey today.
Helen McAteer, Chief Executive of the Psoriasis Association commented, “Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has been a worrying time for us all, it has again shown the strength of the psoriasis community that registries such as PsoProtect and now PsoProtectMe have been established so quickly to help further our understanding and treat people with psoriasis and COVID-19. The commitment of the teams at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology and the University of Manchester, with support from the Psoriasis Association is essential to the understanding not just of psoriasis, but all health events that may affect people living with the condition. Please do give 5-10 minutes to complete the survey – your information really is important.”
The Psoriasis Association is pleased to announce its support for PsoProtect, an international registry where health care professionals can report outcomes of COVID-19 infection in people with psoriasis.
PsoProtect has been set up by world-leading psoriasis researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London, and the University of Manchester to capture de-identified information about the outcomes and experiences of individuals with psoriasis who have had COVID-19. This will provide real world information for clinicians to help them assess risk in people with psoriasis. The registry will also help researchers to investigate whether different medicines or co-morbidities of psoriasis affect the outcome of COVID-19 infection.
This registry will provide a vital clinical and research resource to help in our collective fight against COVID-19 but please note that the registry is for clinicians to submit de-identified data, not patients. However, if you or a family member with psoriasis have had, or get Coronavirus, please do ask your clinician to submit your data to PsoProtect.
PsoProtect will publish regular summaries and insights from the registry, however, they are unable to provide information on request. The latest data can be found here.
In October 2020, the first findings from PsoProtect were published. You can find out more here.
Reporting suspected side effects from medicines
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, patients are currently being asked to submit all suspected side effects of their medicines using the Yellow Card scheme electronically instead of on paper. This is because all Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) staff are working remotely and no longer have access to the MHRA building (since 23rd March) due to the pandemic.
Please note that once the MHRA regains access to its building, it will process any paper suspected side effects reported to the Yellow Card scheme. If you have sent a side effect Yellow Card after 17th March 2020, and you haven’t received an acknowledgement of your report, you may wish to resubmit your suspected side effect electronically.
You can report suspected side effects electronically via:
- The Yellow Card website
- The free Yellow Card app (downloadable from the Apple and Google Play stores)
- Or by calling 0800 731 6789 for free on Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm (you can leave a message outside of these hours and a member of the MHRA team will get back to you.
From the NHS:
- A risk stratification guide which may be useful if you have psoriatic arthritis, are taking an immunosuppressant medication and you are unsure whether or not you fall into the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' category requiring 'shielding'.
From the British Society for Immunology:
- Types of vaccines for COVID-19
From UK healthcare experts in psoriasis:
- A series of videos produced by the pharmaceutical company, Janssen, which include information on how COVID-19 spreads, how to manage your condition and treatments, and how to look after your wellbeing in this challenging time, from UK healthcare experts who specialise in psoriasis.
Someone to talk to:
- Samaritans - Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone: 116 123 (free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year), website: www.samaritans.org
- Silver Line - Free, 24 hour confidential helpline for people aged 55 and over. Phone: 0800 4 70 80 90, website: https://www.thesilverline.org.uk
- CALM - CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35. Phone: 0800 58 58 58, webchat also available (5pm-midnight, 365 days a year). Calls free from landlines, pay phones and all mobiles. Website: www.thecalmzone.net
- Coronavirus and your wellbeing
From Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service:
- Coronavirus advice for employers and employees
Please note that this information is correct as of 18th January 2021. For up to date information, or if you think you may have the symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the latest NHS advice.