If you’re like me prior to writing this, perhaps you know how to spell psoriasis correctly, but only have heard about the dermatological disease in passing, or through advocacy campaigns for Psoriasis Awareness Month which runs through August.
Psoriasis (pronounced without the P—soar-eye-uh-sis) is an immunological skin condition that causes discoloured patches on skin due to the body’s immune system triggering skin cells to grow too quickly—like most cells in our body, skin cells are constantly dying, flaking off, and being regenerated. In psoriasis, the immune system perceives normal skin cells as pathogens—“bad germs” that need to be attacked by the body to preserve health. This triggers the rapid regrowth of skin cells . . . without the original cells actually being in danger.
Skin lesions can cause the individual with psoriasis symptoms, such as pain or itching in the affected areas. Additionally, because psoriasis lesions are visible on the outside of the body, people with psoriasis may experience self-consciousness or low self-esteem due to their lesions—which can lead to body image disturbance and other mental health issues. Psoriasis may also cause imbalance in blood lipids (i.e. cholesterol). Fortunately, these imbalances are treatable, and through treatment, psoriasis can actually be improved through dealing with realigning the body’s lipid profile—which is good, as this also decreases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Psoriasis can have varying degrees of severity, and each part of the body that it affects often needs to be treated differently—treatment needs to be highly individualized to ensure it is effective, and also needs to address the psychosocial concerns that occur with the disease
To learn more about psoriasis and management, visit the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Written by Kerri MacKay