Psoriasis: a disease with severe emotional and social effects on patients

Characteristics of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic disease that not only affects the skin, but several organs and systems such as the joints, the cardiovascular system and the fat and glucose metabolism. There is currently no cure, but there are many different treatments available to keep the disease under control. Even though the word psoriasis means “itchy skin condition”, itchiness is not always a symptom. The most common symptoms include:

  • itching
  • red, scaly skin
  • burning sensation (pustular psoriasis)
  • formation of reddish-white and/or scaling pustules
  • deformed nails
  • stiff, painful, swollen and deformed joints

The disease mainly affects the elbows, scalp, knees and upper body. The lesions caused by psoriasis can be classified by severity or type. The severity of the disease is defined by the amount of body surface area affected by the disease:

  • mild: plaques cover less than 3% of body surface area
  • moderate: plaques cover from 3-10% of body surface area
  • severe: plaques cover more than 10% of body surface area

Psoriasis is a disease that significantly affects a patient’s quality of life mostly due to an altered perception of body image. While the mild form of the disease might seem bothersome, the moderate to severe forms of the disease have a great emotional impact on the patient, with great effects on their social and work life. This is what makes psoriasis a social problem in addition to a medical problem, making it seem even more incapacitating than other common diseases that are considered more serious.

Epidemiology

Psoriasis is one of the most common dermatological diseases affecting an average of 3% of the world population and 3.1% in Italy. Onset of the disease can occur at any age even though it most often develops between the ages of 10 and 40 with peak points of onset during puberty and menopause. Nearly 2/3 of people suffering from psoriasis are affected by the mild form while 1/3 suffer moderate to severe forms, covering even more than 10% of body surface area. It is also estimated 5-42% of psoriasis cases also develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a chronic inflammatory arthritis.

Treatment

Prescribed treatments do not have one objective, but aim at achieving overall benefits. Thus, treatments do not only reduce pain and swelling, but aim to improve the patient’s ability to carry out normal, daily activities and achieve general well-being, which is in line with the holistic approach to patient care that lies at the core of Domedica’s PSP.

In general, mild forms of psoriasis tend to respond to topical treatments while moderate forms require phototherapy. Severe forms often need systemic medications. The most common forms of treatment are:

  • Topicals
  • Phototherapy
  • Biologics
  • Systemics
  • Natural remedies

In addition to following one or more of these treatments, psoriasis patients should limit or eliminate the use of alcohol and tobacco given that consumption can cause symptoms to worsen.

More attention is being given to the social problem of psoriasis. “Psocare”, a research project created in 2004 and promoted and coordinated by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA), brought together 154 specialized and public centers throughout Italy with the objective of improving care for psoriasis patients, promoting educational interventions and developing common guidelines.

© Domedica s.r.l.

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