Psoriasis is more than skin deep

People living with psoriasis face the reality of their condition at all times. Red, scaly patches on the skin, the itch that won’t go away, the stares, invasive questions and comments, and the never-ending physical pain. 

Psoriasis
Image Supplied by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson 

 

Living with psoriasis is more than a skin condition. This disease is a daily physical, emotional and psychological battle for one million South Africans living with this chronic disease,and can cause mental stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression.2 On top of this, people living with psoriasis also face social stigma,1 as the disease is often difficult to hide. The stigma can negatively impact their mental health and can result in people living with the disease, isolating themselves.1 


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What is psoriasis? 

Psoriasis is a serious lifelong skin condition, where the body makes new skin cells at an alarming rate, causing the cells to pile up on the skin’s surface.This causes thick, scaly lesions, called plaques.3  

Psoriasis can affect children, as young as 15-years-old, women and men across all racial lines.4 And the impact of psoriasis can be devastating to other organs and tissues in the body.4 

Many people diagnosed with psoriasis are often overweight and have higher cholesterol.These health concerns, coupled with the severity of psoriasis, lead to an increased risk for vascular disease, causing heart attacks, strokes, and premature death,1 as the inflammation can harm the arteries and veins.1  

Symptoms associated with psoriasis  

Although psoriasis can present on any part of the body,3 it is most common on the knees, elbows, lower back, scalp,2 legs, face, palms and the soles of the feet. 5 Symptoms are different for everyone,5 and can include, 

  • Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales5 
  • Stiff, swollen and painful joints2,5 
  • Itching and burning5 
  • Dry and cracked skin.5 

 

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Clear skin is achievable  

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, people living with this disease don’t have to suffer. Dermatologists can prescribe treatment options that can reduce or eliminate symptoms,bringing much-needed relief to people living with psoriasis. These treatment options can include topical treatments to help prevent the skin from becoming too dry,2, 6 oral medication,light therapy,and breakthrough biologics that makes it possible for a patient to achieve clear skin.  

People with symptoms of psoriasis should seek medical treatment from a dermatologist who will prescribe effective treatment options.3 Should you need ongoing treatment, enquire with your medical aid to access effective treatment to help achieve clear skin. Remember, effective psoriasis treatment can also prevent other serious health concerns like diabetes or psoriatic arthritis,3 and help people with the condition live a fulfilled and healthy life. 

People living with psoriasis should also educate themselves about this debilitating disease, recognise what triggers cause their psoriasis to flare-up, and then make lifestyle changes to avoid the triggers.The #MoreThanSkinDeep Facebook page is a valuable resource that shares information about the impact of living with psoriasis. Lastly, remember a good skincare routine and healthy lifestyle can help.

 

References: 

  1. Health24. Severe psoriasis linked to earlier death. https://www.news24.com/health24/Medical/Skin/News/severe-psoriasis-linked-to-earlier-death-20170908. Accessed on 27 January 2021. 
  2. Psoriasis Association. Types & Treatments. http://psoriasis.org.za/types-treatments/. Accessed on 27 January 2021. 
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Psoriasis: Overview. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what/overview. Accessed on 27 January 2021. 
  4. National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/. Access on 27 January 2021. 
  5. Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840. Accessed on 27 January 2021. 
  6. National Psoriasis Foundation. Treatments for Psoriatic Disease. https://www.psoriasis.org/treatments-for-psoriatic-disease/. Accessed on 1 February 2021. 
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