Why Does It Have to Be so Complicated? A Closer Look at Psoriasis and Its Impact on Patients
You’ve heard of plaques and you’ve seen some of the visual symptoms of psoriasis, but there’s so much more to psoriasis than just plaques and skin symptoms. 92% of those living with psoriasis have other health conditions to manage besides psoriasis. In addition to the physical symptoms and complications, the emotional impact that can also accompany psoriasis can make living with and managing the condition quite challenging.
What areas of the body does psoriasis impact?
Plaque psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can affect the skin, joints, and nails. Psoriasis symptoms can occur on the skin anywhere on the body. The scalp is one of the most common places affected by plaque psoriasis, especially the base of the scalp, around the hairline, in or around the ears or at the back of the neck. The elbows and knees are common places where plaques can occur. Plaques in these locations can lead to painful cracks also known as fissures as the joints move a lot in these places, which cause the plaques to rupture. When plaques occur on the palms of hands and/or on the soles of the feet this is called palmoplantar psoriasis. This areas can be very painful and can keep people from participating in daily activities. Nail psoriasis is also very common and can cause pitting, discoloration, and thickening of the nails.
Psoriasis is more than skin deep
Plaques are a common symptom of psoriasis, but often there are other symptoms that are difficult to manage and other symptoms that have more of an impact on an individual’s daily life. Most people with psoriasis experience itching and burning on the skin. The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word meaning to “to itch.” The itching that accompanies psoriasis tends to happen frequently and the sensation can feel more severe with a burning quality to it. Itching can even occur in areas where there are no visible plaques on the skin. In addition to itching, psoriasis can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain for many people. Plaques can be painful, this is especially true when they crack and bleed. The pain and fatigue that comes with psoriasis can make carrying out everyday activities very difficult.
Flare today, gone tomorrow?
Because psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition, patients will cycle through periods of flares and remission. Flares are periods of time when psoriasis symptoms worsen. Remission is either a period of time when there is a reduction of symptoms or for some, it may mean 100% clear skin. Depending on the severity of one’s psoriasis as well as the type of treatment(s) they are using to manage their symptoms, experiences with the number of flares and the length of flares will differ from person to person. Many patients have never experienced remission from psoriasis symptoms. When asked to describe what remission would be like patients shared the following words: life-changing, miracle, amazing, freedom and relief.
There is currently no cure for psoriasis, but many are taking lots of steps to avoid further complications from psoriasis. 85% of respondents are taking action to prevent or delay psoriasis complications with over ⅔ taking medications as directed.
Getting support through the psoriasis journey
Getting support from family and friends can be a key aspect of managing psoriasis. Besides members of a healthcare team, 40% look to spouses or significant others to help with managing their psoriasis. While many are getting help from others, 49% are managing the psoriasis journey on their own. When it comes to the type of support patients wish they had or identify that they need; emotional support and help to find coping strategies and/or stress management techniques are the types of support most wanted or needed.
Wishing others could understand
The psoriasis patient journey isn’t always easy. There can sometimes be barriers to getting a proper diagnosis and it may take several appointments with different providers to get an official psoriasis diagnosis. Beyond the diagnosis aspect, there is often misconceptions about the condition. Many people perceive psoriasis to be just about the skin symptoms, but because psoriasis is an autoimmune condition it can have impacts on a person’s daily life due to physical symptoms like pain, fatigue and the impact it can have on a person’s emotional and mental health.
The Plaque Psoriasis in America 2018 survey was conducted online from March through May of 2018. 1,270 people who are diagnosed with psoriasis completed the survey.