Affecting millions of people worldwide, psoriasis is a skin condition caused by an overactive immune system that results in abnormally rapid skin cell production, causing these cells to pile up on the skin’s surface and leading to course, red, scaly areas (skin plaques) that are itchy and uncomfortable. It is a noncontagious disease that has become common among people of all ages, that include famous people like Britney Spears, Clint Brink, and Kim Kardashian.
While some patients only suffer from itchiness and discomfort during flare-ups, others develop more serious secondary conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular complications, or diabetes mellitus. According to Dr Tarryn Jacobs, Specialist Dermatologist, approximately 30% of people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that results in painful, stiff, and swollen joints.
“It’s more than just a skin condition and a nuisance. The inflammation caused by psoriasis can impact other organs in the body,” Dr Jacobs said explaining that it’s imperative that psoriasis is detected early and treated accordingly.
Notably, psoriasis is a chronic condition, which means that flare-ups will recur, and while there are various treatments available to manage the symptoms, there is currently no cure.
Some patients may experience long remissions with certain treatments, while other treatments could essentially keep the psoriasis under control. Treatments range from topical treatments for skin plaques to phototherapy or light therapy, which are typically prescribed by a dermatologist.
“There are also tablet options, or systemic treatments which work throughout the body, often to suppress the immune system. Biologics have been another major advance in the treatment of psoriasis, giving us more potent treatments that are safe. This is a viable option for those with moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis who have not responded to other treatments,” said Dr Jacobs.
BENEFITS OF EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT
The landscape for psoriasis is rapidly changing in terms of understanding the disease, as well as new therapeutics.
These comorbidities include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, fatty liver disease, psoriatic arthritis. These can greatly impact patients' quality of life and mobility.
LIVING WITH PSORIASIS
As psoriasis is a chronic systemic disease, patients need to continuously manage it in their everyday lives. It is important that patients follow the instructions of their doctor or dermatologist and take their medications as prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms and inhibit risk factors.
Patients are also encouraged to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to boost their immune systems, and to stop smoking and drinking alcohol as these substances can aggravate the disease.
Patients may also experience mental health issues due to stigmatisation and low self-esteem.