Imagine having to explain day in and day out that the big, red blotches of scaly skin on your arms and legs are not contagious, they’re called psoriasis. Although approximately 7.5 million people are living with psoriasis in the U.S., psoriasis can be hard to diagnose and is often mistaken for other skin conditions.
By definition, psoriasis is a chronic disease that develops when a person’s skin cells grow too fast, causing new skin cells to form in days rather than months, which results in the itchy, sore, red patches seen on the surface of the skin. As a result, many psoriasis patients find themselves avoiding the outdoors and social situations to reduce how often they need to explain what psoriasis is.
The impact of psoriasis on patients’ quality of life is frequently underestimated. In a recent study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, most dermatologists (63 percent) reported that psoriasis impacted patients’ daily activities and work, and 80 percent reported it affected their patients socially and emotionally.
Don’t let psoriasis define you or someone you know. Yes, living with psoriasis has some unique challenges; however, there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms. Whether you make changes in behavior (e.g., consuming less caffeine) or consider available treatment options (both over-the-counter and prescription), it is likely that you can achieve some relief for recurring and/or painful itch.
Research suggests that stress can also trigger specific immune factors associated with psoriasis flare-ups. Meditation, exercise and a good night’s sleep are great ways to manage stress levels, but don’t be afraid to also seek outside help. The National Psoriasis Foundation encourages patients to connect with other people living with psoriasis and or find a therapist in their area, if needed. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician or dermatologist about your symptoms and ways to effectively manage your psoriasis. For more information check out the “Manage My Itch”.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Statistics.2015. https://www.psoriasis.org/cure_known_statistics.
National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis. 2015. https://psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis.
P.C.M. van de Kerkhof, et al. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. Physician perspectives in the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: results from the population-based Multinational Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis survey. 2015.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Psoriasis. 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/psoriasis#ixzz3jndildRN
National Psoriasis Foundation. Stress and psoriatic disease. 2015. https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress.
Photo by Rishi S