Psoriasis, affecting more than 100 million people worldwide, is a common skin disease associated with painful, itchy, stinging lesions. While the physical effects can be severe, so too can be the impact on mental and emotional well being.
The causes of Psoriasis are not fully understood. It can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors, such as stress, infections, sunburn, certain medications, or mild trauma. The research focused on the possibility that psoriasis could be an autoimmune disease that has proven inconclusive. Major risk factors include:
Lesions can form anywhere on the skin and nails. The severity of the disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms can wax and wane with intermittent flare-ups and remissions. Symptoms include:
Often, the greater the visibility of the skin lesions, the greater the social stigma (or the perception thereof). This can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, and suicidal ideation. Psoriasis’ overall impact on society, from the school to the workplace, from the gym to the bedroom, is far greater than the sum of its parts. May be accompanied by:
A diagnosis of psoriasis is usually preceded by a skin biopsy or scraping to rule out any other possible maladies. Otherwise, the presence of characteristic skin lesions is typically sufficient to confirm a diagnosis.
Besides affecting the skin, Psoriasis can involve other organs of the body like joints, heart, colon leading to several other health problems. Psoriasis can also lead to several mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Treatment is focused on easing symptoms, typically lasting the lifetime of the patient, as there is no cure for psoriasis. A comprehensive treatment program not only tends to the physical manifestation (skin lesion), but it also screens for and addresses associated physical disorders and mental health issues.
Left untreated, symptoms can worsen and patients are at an increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. Most patients receiving proper treatment experience an increased quality of life.