Today is annual World Psoriasis Day, which is sponsored by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations. The aim is to raise awareness about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease which causes itchy scaling on the skin surfaces because of the rapid build-up of skin cells. 125 million adults and children globally are affected with the condition.
Sufferers deal with extreme itchiness and embarrassment. Not only does it affect a person physically, but socially, emotionally and financially. It requires constant management and takes a toll on people who deal with the symptoms daily. For 30% of sufferers, it affects the joints and causes psoriatic arthritis.
A specific theme is set every year by the IFPA to inspire community activities and to shine a light on specific psoriasis related issues. This year’s theme for WPD is “Treat Psoriasis Seriously”.
Because people only see the physical appearance of the condition, there are many misconceptions surrounding the disease. Here are some of them.
Misconceptions Surrounding The Disease
Psoriasis is a disease that does not only affect adults. Although, most people will start seeing flare ups in their 30’s and even as late as 50, the National Psoriasis Foundation says that 20,000 children under the age of 10 are diagnosed every year.
A common misconception people have about the disease is that it is contagious. Often people think it is a skin disease because it affects a person externally, but it is linked to a malfunctioning immune system. It is not related to cleanliness or hygiene and is impossible to catch from physical contact.
Contrary to popular belief, all psoriasis is not the same. It comes in various types, including: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. Plaque is the most common form; dead skin cells make white and grey scales forming red patches on the skin.
Sufferers deal with it their whole lives and may experience periods where they have flare-ups. However, there are others whose conditions show up minimally or are non-existent. All those affected by the disease are at a greater risk of developing other chronic and serious health conditions such as strokes, cancer, depression, diabetes, and other issues.
Even though psoriasis is a lifelong condition, it is treatable: many treatment options are available. The goal is to stop overactive skin cell from reproducing, soothe itching and inflammation and to remove excess dead skin from the body. Treatments include; light therapy and topical, oral or injected medications.