How Does Psoriasis Affect Ability to Perform Household Chores?
You are familiar with most of the myths and misconceptions about psoriasis, you’ve heard them your whole life. You experienced the stares and whispers strangers make when you’re out shopping or doing other chores. In addition to the stigma of psoriasis, for many people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, there are real physical limitations that often accompany the visible symptoms on your skin.
In our recent Psoriasis In America survey, people with psoriasis indicated that there are several things they wish others better understood about their health condition and the negative impact on their life:
- The impact psoriasis has on their overall life (75%)
- Getting tired and experiencing fatigue more easily (68%)
- Decreased ability to exercise or participate in physical activity (71%)
- Psoriasis affects activities of daily life (63%)
- Decreased ability to fulfill family/household duties/chores (65%)
Psoriasis has been shown to have an impact on people's daily activities, work, intimate relationships, and other areas of life. While there have been several studies that show the negative impact in regards to emotional and social life, there has been very little research on the impact that psoriasis has on the ability and time to perform household chores.
What does research tell us?
One recent study surveyed 262 Finnish patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis1. In this study, more than half of the study participants (57.8%) reported difficulties with household chores because of their health condition. Psoriasis affected a wide range of everyday household activities, with physically demanding tasks and those involving contact with water mentioned most often.
Most of the survey participants (84.6%) reported that they had to increase the amount of time spent on skin care because of psoriasis, on average by 87 minutes per week. A quarter of study participants reported receiving assistance with their household chores, with women receiving more assistance than men. About 20% of people said they would like more assistance with household chores, again with women stating this more frequently than men.
Not surprisingly, study participants' perceived ability to perform chores decreased as the severity of psoriasis symptoms increased. People with mild psoriasis still reported a decrease in their ability to perform household chores, even though this was more pronounced among people with moderate and severe psoriasis. Most people in the study reported developing ways to work around their symptoms and still perform household chores despite their psoriasis symptoms.
What household chores are the most problematic?
The most common physical symptoms of psoriasis such as skin lesions, and joint symptoms in people who also have psoriatic arthritis, may cause difficulties and pain when moving and when things touch the skin. As well, the fatigue that many people with psoriasis experience can also impact one's ability to perform household chores on a daily basis.
Household chores involving water and use of cleaning agents may be additionally challenging because of the concern that with prolonged contact these may further dry out one’s skin or increase potential skin irritation. This may be of particular concern when one is experiencing flare-ups of skin symptoms. Having to reapply emollients or topical medications multiple times in a day because of them washing off due to these chores involving water and cleaning may be a concern.
People with psoriasis and/or other people in their household may also have to do extra housework (including extra laundry and washing) because of the messy, greasy treatment and extra vacuuming (including frequent cleaning skin flakes off furniture). In the study referenced above, partners and other relatives of patients with psoriasis spent considerable time helping to apply topical treatments, and not just assisting with household chores.
Overall, the ability to routinely perform household chores may be an underreported and under-recognized impact on the quality of life for people living with psoriasis. Activities of daily living and performing household chores are part of what researchers call the "burden of disease" that needs to be given more attention. For many people with chronic health conditions like psoriasis, this may be an important hidden need.
Researchers and healthcare providers should better identify the range of activities and tasks that are part of daily life for people with psoriasis. Having additional assistance with household chores could be a way to improve the quality of life for people with psoriasis.
What about you?
What is your experience? Are there particular household chores that you find challenging because of your health condition? Do you receive any additional help from family members for these chores? Let us know in comments!
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