It’s Psoriasis Awareness Month!

August is

International Psoriasis Awareness Month!

This August, we’re taking action together in support of our community. I’m certainly no medical doctor, but I did use Dr. Google and many scientific articles to describe comprehensively what Psoriasis is, its causes, and more. If you or someone you know lives with this condition, feel free to read this article and spread the word!

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy, scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. Psoriasis is a common skin disease affecting 1 in 50 people. It occurs equally in men and women. It can appear at any age.

It’s a long-term (chronic) disease with no cure. It tends to go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while or going into remission. Treatments are available to help you manage symptoms. And you can incorporate lifestyle habits and coping strategies to help you live better with psoriasis.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Scientists believe psoriasis is an immune system problem that causes the skin to regenerate faster than usual. In the most common type of psoriasis, known as plaque psoriasis, this rapid turnover of cells results in scales and red patches.

Just what causes the immune system to malfunction isn’t entirely clear. Researchers believe both genetics and environmental factors play a role. The condition is not contagious.

Signs & Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch
  • Itching, burning, or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Psoriasis Triggers

Many people predisposed to psoriasis may be free of symptoms for years until some environmental factor triggers the disease. Common psoriasis triggers include:

  • Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
  • Weather, especially cold, dry conditions
  • Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, a bug bite, or a severe sunburn
  • Stress
  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications — including lithium, high blood pressure medications, and antimalarial drugs
  • Rapid withdrawal of oral or systemic corticosteroids

Types of Psoriasis

  • Chronic plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. Plaques of psoriasis are usually present on the knees, elbows, trunk, scalp, behind ears, and buttocks. However, other areas can be involved too.
  • Guttate psoriasis consists of small plaques of psoriasis scattered over the trunk and limbs. It can be caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus, which can cause throat infections.
  • Palmoplantar psoriasis is psoriasis affecting the palms and soles. Psoriasis may appear at other sites too.
  • Pustular psoriasis is a rare type of psoriasis. The plaques on the trunk and limbs are studded with tiny yellow pus-filled spots. It can be localized or generalized and can flare rapidly, necessitating hospital admission for treatment.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis is an aggressive, rare form of psoriasis that affects nearly all skin. It can sometimes require hospital admission for treatment.

Living with Psoriasis

Stigma: Findings from a 2015 research study demonstrated that psoriasis is highly stigmatizing and carries about the same level of stigma as herpes. Psoriasis is neither infectious nor contagious, and NPF is working hard to change this misconception. You can help by educating those around you in your everyday life.

At school or work: Psoriasis goes where you go, so it’s essential to learn how to handle psoriasis in these spaces. That includes how to speak about psoriasis to teachers, administrators, and students or managers and coworkers. There are ways to help people understand your situation and point of view.

Relationships: It may be difficult to talk to your partner, friends, and family about your psoriasis and how it affects your life. You’ll probably feel embarrassed, or that you might drive people away if only they knew the truth about you. But embarrassment is natural, and the people who care about you want to know how to support you. Don’t avoid these conversations; embrace them.

Clothing: Psoriasis is nothing to be embarrassed about, but you may not want it to be the first thing someone sees. Certain clothes and fabrics, combined with moisturizing, can help you look and feel your best in any situation or season. Please speak with a health care professional if you are struggling with day-to-day life with psoriasis.

Psoriasis Treatment

There are various treatment options for psoriasis:

  • Basic therapy (skincare): Care of the affected areas of skin using lipid-replenishing ointments, creams or lotions to keep the skin supple, protect it from injury and relieve itching. Some products also contain medications that are supposed to reduce sheddings, such as urea or salicylic acid.
  • Topical treatment: Products containing corticosteroids or vitamin D analogs are typically used in topical treatment (treatment applied to the skin from the outside). These are available in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, or foams.
  • Light therapy: Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the plaques to ultraviolet light (UV light). The UV light reduces inflammation in the skin and also slows the production of cells. Sometimes medications called psoralens are used in combination with light therapy. Psoralens make the skin more sensitive to light. Light therapy is best suited for moderate or severe psoriasis, and in whom topical treatment alone wasn’t compelling enough.
  • Medications taken orally or injected: These medicines are a treatment option for moderate or severe psoriasis. They inhibit the body’s immune response. Methotrexate (MTX), fumaric acid esters, apremilast, and biological drugs (biologics) are commonly used for this purpose.

Basic moisturizing skincare is always recommended for psoriasis – during periods without any skin problems, too.

Psoriasis Community & Resources

If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you don’t have to go it alone. In-person and online, NPF offers many ways to get involved with the community, make new friends, and find the resources and connections that can help you thrive.

Ask your doctor if there are other people with psoriasis in your area. You don’t need a large group to get and give support. The National Psoriasis Foundation has a program to help people start a psoriasis support group and provide them with training and support.

Nonprofit organizations, both national and international, are dual purposes: They offer help to those seeking to understand and manage their psoriasis, and they promote research to find a cure.

Online resources are an excellent way to find a range of information. Visitors can learn about psoriasis and treatments, tips for staying healthy, how to get involved in advocacy efforts, and how to find healthcare professionals in their area.

An Awesome TEDTalk

References

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what/overview

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279447/

https://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=178&itemtype=document

1 Comment

  1. Great job Sabine and very informative.
    Learned a lot actually. Thank you for bringing various and interesting subjects to light.

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