August marks the start of National Psoriasis Awareness Month, a time where we can shine a light on psoriasis, its symptoms, treatments and support those who experience any of its manifestations.
Psoriasis affects millions of people across the world. With this in mind, it is important to reflect and work to eliminate some of the common misconceptions surrounding the disease. Two important points to make is that: Psoriasis is not contagious; and psoriasis involves so much more than just the skin – it affects everything. With the skin findings often being visible, as a rash, many people will assume that it is contagious. This can be immensely socially ostracizing to those affected. Additionally, it is a systemic illness which can be disabling, affecting the entire body. The chronic inflammation has been linked to severe and deforming arthritis, as well as worsening cardiovascular health, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to contribute to depression. The skin findings on their own can be a difficult burden to bear with severe itching, scaling, flaking, discomfort in addition to the social stigma stemming from misunderstanding associated with a visible disease. With this in mind, it can deeply affect a person’s everyday life; from activity participation, to clothing choices, social engagement, and even sleep.
Psoriasis is basically inflammation run rampant throughout the body. The treatment landscape has steadily improved to provide physicians and patients with a wider array of medications to tackle this disease. At present there are a variety of topical, oral and injectable medications available. The appropriate treatment will be patient specific and deciding on this will be a joint patient-physician discussion/decision. It is important that psoriasis patients establish care with a dermatologist (one who is preferably familiar with psoriasis), so that systemic therapy can be started early to prevent many of the associated co-morbidities.
For the National Psoriasis Foundation, August has been dubbed National Psoriasis Action Month – as they strive to bring the community together in action, committing to find a cure. Please feel free to visit their website for information on how to get involved with volunteering, attend events, or possibly donate toward research. (https://www.psoriasis.org/)