World Psoriasis Day is October 29, and annually this day brings awareness to this common and uncomfortable medical condition and shines a light on the difficulties faced by people who have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
On this day of awareness, different associations try to spread information about this illness and aim for more access to treatment. On World Psoriasis Day, which has been celebrated for over a decade, The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) members and affiliates present awareness events. Many commoners and medical professionals misunderstood psoriasis for centuries. Over 125 million people throughout the world have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease that affects the skin and results from an overactive immune system. A normal immune system duplicates new skin cells about every 30 days. The immune system in those with psoriasis duplicates cells about every 3 days.
The skin disease psoriasis causes a rash with scaly, itchy, uncomfortable patches. You see them on the elbows, knees, chest, and scalp commonly. Psoriasis seems to flare in cycles, causing symptoms for weeks to months, then going dormant for a while. For those with a genetic predisposition, common triggers seem to be cuts, infections, burns, or reactions to medications. Several types of psoriasis exist, each with its own presentation and symptoms:
- Plaque psoriasis (most common)
- Pustular psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Nail psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis.
- Inverse psoriasis
- Psoriatic arthritis
How to Treat Psoriasis
Psoriasis is treated with topical steroids, or other anti-inflammatories and topicals. For more severe cases, treatment may include phototherapy or medications that alter your immune response. There are also injectable biologics that are used. Lifestyle modifications are also helpful in decreasing triggers that cause flares. This includes:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Stopping smoking
- Weight loss
- Decreasing alcohol
- Avoiding stressful activities.
Corticosteroids like hydrocortisone in oils, creams, ointments, and gels are most frequently prescribed. A stronger steroid may be needed for tough or sensitive areas like triamcinolone or clobetasol. Vitamin D analogs like calcipotriene and calcitriol slow the growth of skin cells. Coal tar reduces itching scaling and inflammation. Oral medications that affect immune system response to psoriasis include methotrexate and cyclosporine.
How to Observe World Psoriasis Day
You can participate in World Psoriasis Day by contacting your local association for walks or runs around October 29 in your area. If you have psoriasis, you can help to inform your community by doing an interview at an event or online. If all else fails, you can get free flyers and postcards from IFPA to pass out to aid in the educational efforts of the awareness campaign.