You may have seen someone with the red, itchy, scaly skin condition known as psoriasis, but did you know that psoriasis can develop into a disease that is much more serious than just an annoying skin ailment? August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, so it is a great time to learn more about this disease.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition where skin layers sluff off due to over production, which results in spots and lesions on affected skin areas (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015a). The skin condition itches, stings, and burns, and can be very uncomfortable for those with the disease. As alarming as Psoriasis skin patches may look on an individual’s skin, the disease is not contagious. Psoriasis is caused by genetic factors in a person’s body, that are activated by an event, such as a skin injury, stress, some types of infections, or taking certain medications (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015a). Scientists are still researching the exact genes involved and what triggers the infection in multiple clinical trials and research studies to learn more of the specifics about the disease and how to treat it.
It is believed that around 10% of the population has the genetic markers for Psoriasis, but only 2-3 %actually have the disease activated to cause the skin reaction (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015a). Around 10% of those with Psoriasis will develop Psoriasis Arthritis, which is swelling of the joints and joint pain due to Psoriasis (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015a). Severe cases of Psoriasis Arthritis can be debilitating and cause major lifestyle disruption. Being overweight increases the chances of severe complications from Psoriasis, and Psoriasis can be linked to other diseases, such as diabetes or kidney disease (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015b).
There are a variety of treatments available for Psoriasis, including oral medications, Ultraviolet light therapy and topical ointments and creams (National Psoriasis Foundation, 2015a; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2013). In addition therapy for the stress and depression associated with the condition is valuable for patients.
If you have skin symptoms or joint pain that you believe may be linked to Psoriasis, you should see your doctor or a local clinic for diagnosis.
For More Information
The following websites are good resources to learn more about Psoriasis:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/psoriasis/index.htm
- The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases:
- National Psoriasis Foundation: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis (This website is full or resources such as online support groups and webcasts of Psoriasis information).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Psoriasis. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/psoriasis/index.htm
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2013). Questions and answers about Psoriasis. Retrieved from: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/psoriasis/default.asp
National Psoriasis Foundation. (2015a). About Psoriasis. Retrieved from: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis
National Psoriasis Foundation. (2015b). Psoriasis Awareness Month. Retrieved from: https://www.psoriasis.org/wellness
Written by: R. Courtney Fiess.
Ms. Fiess is a Masters student in Health Studies at Texas Woman’s University. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Houston. Her current focuses in Health Studies are West Nile Virus and Women’s Health.
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