Oct 29, 2021 by EMPWellness Admin
World Psoriasis Day, observed on October 29, shines a light on challenges faced by those suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a disease that results from an overactive immune system and is evidenced by rashes on the skin. While most immune systems take 30 or so days to push new cells to the skin, those with psoriasis push new cells within two to three days.
The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) presents World Psoriasis Day to recognize those with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. It has been celebrated on October 29 for more than a decade.
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp. Psoriasis is a common, 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.
Psoriasis affects more than 3% of the US adult population. That is more than 7.5 million US adults.
It is an immune-mediated disease (a disease with an unclear cause that is characterized by inflammation caused by dysfunction of the immune system) that causes inflammation in the body. There may be visible signs of inflammation such as raised plaques (plaques may look different for different skin types) and scales on the skin.
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, even on the eyelids, ears, lips, skin folds, hands, feet, and nails. Plaques can be a few small patches or can affect large areas. It’s possible to have psoriasis plaques and scales in more than one location on the body at a time.
There are five types of psoriasis. It’s possible to have more than one type of psoriasis at one time and more than one type in a lifetime. Treatments may vary depending on the type and location of the psoriasis.
Both doctors and patients have misunderstood psoriasis for centuries. While able to isolate the symptoms, the most respected medical minds of ancient times remained baffled. Hippocrates finally replaced superstition with knowledge in treating skin ailments by introducing tar into the mix. He also prescribed topical arsenic
The Greek physician Galen identified psoriasis as a skin disease through clinical observation and was the first to label it as psoriasis. But, along with arsenic, he suggested applying broth in which a viper had been boiled.
The condition, often mixed up with skin disorders believed contagious, led to confusion with leprosy (blame the Old Testament) and its accompanying social stigma. Officials in medieval Europe forced psoriasis sufferers to warn others of their arrival by ringing a clapper.
Per the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Ellen Seiden, “[Treatment] ideas included lubricating the skin and wrapping the body in sheets for days to create an occlusion (cover) to loosen scales. Popular applications sometimes include toxic ingredients such as nitrate, sulfur and mercury, causing side effects harmful enough to outweigh any benefits. Most solutions were smelly, irritating, and time-consuming.”
Life with Psoriasis
As with other chronic diseases, psoriasis may affect areas of your life other than your physical health. Psoriasis may affect your emotional health, your relationships, and how you handle stress. It could even affect areas of your life that you wouldn’t expect, such as the clothes that you choose to wear. For some people, living with psoriasis can be a challenge. However, there are ways to handle those challenges so you can thrive with psoriasis.
What Can I Do?
Although there is no cure, there are more effective treatments for psoriasis today than ever before. Treating psoriasis can help improve symptoms as well as lower the risk of developing other health conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression.
That is why treating psoriasis is so important. Effective treatment of your psoriasis not only manages skin symptoms but may also help to reduce inflammation in your body that could lead to other diseases. These other diseases are often referred to as comorbidities.
There may be other reasons that you choose to treat your psoriasis. You may want to manage the intense itch and pain affecting your skin. You may want to feel confident wearing certain clothes. You may be tired of brushing off or vacuuming scales that fall from plaques. You may long to talk with people and know they are listening to you and not staring at your plaques. These are all valid reasons to treat your psoriasis.
Whatever your motivation for treating, know that there are more options available now than ever before. Discuss with your dermatologist ways to effectively treat your psoriasis.
If you are not seeing an improvement in your symptoms after three to six months, discuss with your dermatologist other treatment options or changes to your current treatment.
Your dermatologist should take a treat to target approach. Under Treat to Target, a patient and their health care provider set specific targets or goals for improved health outcomes. The goals are meant to reduce the severity of plaque psoriasis so that it covers 1 percent or less of a person’s body within three months after starting a treatment. Since your treatment may also affect your overall health, continue to see your primary care provider for regular check-ups.