World Psoriasis Day raises awareness

2015-10-28 06:00
Photo: supplied A patient suffering from Psoriasis.

Photo: supplied A patient suffering from Psoriasis.

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INTERNATIONAL Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) aims to dispel myths when it celebrates the annual World Psoriasis Day on 29 October.

This day is a global event aimed at giving a voice to the 125 million people worldwide who suffer with psoriasis. Furthermore, by raising awareness about psoriasis, IFPA hopes to let people with the condition gain access to treatment and know that they are not alone.

Dermatologist Dr. Ayesha Moolla said: “It is very important that people with psoriasis are aware of the available treatment options and particularly of newer combination treatments. Especially when treating the scalp, these are easier to apply, are very effective and can help to reduce the chance of side-effects that might have been associated with older therapies.

“Psoriasis is a common, chronic, relapsing inflammatory condition that primarily affects skin, but which may also involve the finger nails, toe nails and joints. It shows clearly demarcated patches or ‘plaques’ of thick, red skin, covered with white or silver scales, itching, burning or pain, bleeding, flaking of the scalp, involvement of the finger and toe nails, which may be discoloured and lift from the nail bed.” He said the discomfort and unsightly cosmetic appearance of the skin and nails can be a source of acute embarrassment, self-consciousness and frustration.

“There are four types of psoriasis - plaque psoriasis, which is the most common form (90%), usually occurring over the back of the elbows, front of the knees, on the lower back and around the umbilicus. Inverse psoriasis, lesions occur on the joint creases and skin folds and tend not to scale. Guttate psoriasis, widely distributed small red, scaly, ‘tear drop’ skin lesions. Generalised pustular psoriasis, the person is unwell with rapidly progressing tender, sterile pustules and widespread inflammation.

“Up to one in four people with psoriasis develop an associated arthritis with joint pain, early morning stiffness and painful inflammation of the fingers or toes. This psoriatic arthritis is progressive and, if left untreated, ultimately results in deformity. More extensive or severe skin involvement is often associated with feelings of embarrassment or shame, and depression and anxiety are common.”

Treatment will be individualised and depends on the severity, site and type of psoriasis, and on the patient. Sometimes a number of treatments might need to be tried before the most effective one is found.

Support for people with psoriasis in South Africa is available through the South African Psoriasis Association (

Sister Judy Wallace said: “Joining a community that understands and shares experiences with people in the same boat is one of the best ways of managing the disease.

It is helpful to be able to talk to others with the condition and learn from their stories and experience. Likewise, World Psoriasis Day is a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the disease.” - Supplied.

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