Today's guest post comes from Patrik Vuorio, Executive Director of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA).
If I say the word psoriasis to you, what comes to mind?
Perhaps your first thought will be of a red, rash-like lesion on a person’s skin, followed by recognition that the disease is autoimmune, long-term, and widespread, affecting 125 million worldwide, and associated with a range of serious co-morbidities.1
But, ask the average person, and their thoughts may well stop skin-deep: It’s just an itchy skin condition, right?
The fact remains that awareness of psoriasis is low. The condition is consistently underplayed in daily life, from the judgment of strangers who don’t understand the disease, to patient dissatisfaction with clinical outcomes, to the status quo perpetuated by policymakers. Psoriasis is still misunderstood and downplayed, so the suffering of those living with psoriasis continues.
How do we fight this? The answer is by equipping people with the knowledge that psoriasis is much more than just skin-deep. That’s why this World Psoriasis Day we are calling on the psoriasis community to draw attention to the seriousness of psoriasis with the theme: ‘Treat Psoriasis Seriously, our lives depend on it’.
So, let’s think seriously about the real impact of psoriasis for a moment…
Physically, a person living with psoriasis can experience: constant dry, cracked skin that may bleed; itching, burning or soreness; and damaged nails.2,3 This can mean daily physical discomfort that can interfere with the most basic functions.4
If the immediate symptoms of the disease weren’t bad enough, psoriasis increases the risk of other serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.5 In addition, up to a third of people with psoriasis suffer from psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory joint disease that can be extremely painful and severely disabling.6
Psychologically, psoriasis is associated with poor self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, depression and higher suicide rates.7,8 Often, those living with the condition report shame or humiliation due to visibly sore or flaking skin. And, even if this is overcome, a person living with visible psoriasis may avoid work and social situations due to the stigma and discrimination attached to the condition, often as a result of unfamiliarity with psoriasis.9
When you know the facts, it is unsurprising to learn that the impact on quality of life is comparable to other major chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Much of the suffering experienced by those living with psoriasis could be reduced with earlier diagnosis, better treatment, more holistic support and increased awareness.
“Encouraging policy action to address the psoriasis challenge” – a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Lilly in 2017, highlighted that much more can be done to improve the lives of people living with psoriasis. This can only be achieved if everyone, from healthcare professionals to the general public, including policy and decision makers, takes psoriasis a little more seriously.
Have a serious conversation about psoriasis, this World Psoriasis Day. Who will you speak to?
- Griffiths CEM, et al. The global state of psoriasis disease epidemiology: a workshop report, Br J Dermatol. 2017 Jul; 177(1):e4–e7. Accessed October 2018.
- About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. Accessed: October 2018.
- International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA). Psoriasis is a serious disease deserving global attention. Accessed October 2018.
- Kavanaugh A, et al. Psoriatic Arthritis and Burden of Disease: Patient Perspectives from the Population-Based Multinational Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (MAPP) Survey. Rheumatol Therapy. 2016;3(1):91–102.
- Husni ME. Comorbidities in Psoriatic Arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin of North Am. 2015;41(4):677–98.
- Strohal R, et. al. Psoriasis beyond the skin: an expert group consensus on the management of psoriatic arthritis and common co-morbidities in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013;28(12):1661–9.
- Basavaraj KH, et al. Stress and quality of life in psoriasis: an update. International Journal of Dermatology. 2011;50:783–92.
- Kurd SK, et al. The risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality in patients with psoriasis. Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(8):891–5.
- Polat M, et al. Perspectives of psoriasis patients in Turkey. Dermatologica Sinica. 2012;30(1):7–10.