Thursday, May 7, 2009

Be Glad You Were Born Today

While you may be one of the 2% of the world population, or one of the 800,000 Filipinos (according to the latest estimate of the Department of Health from this news video) who have psoriasis, be happy that you were not born during biblical times.

According to medical experts, the Hebrew term zaraath which can be found in the Old Testament, particularly Leviticus 13, is so broad that it may not only refer to leprosy (Hansen's disease) but also to other skin disorders including psoriasis. As you may have known, if you were found to be suffering from leprosy during olden times, you would be considered as an unclean person. The consequence would be costly: officials could either declare you as a dead person, or burn you at the stake.

Psoriasis is from the Greek word "psora" which means itch. (Very itchy, indeed!) While Hippocrates (460-377 BC) applied the the term psora to scaly facial and genital eruptions, psoriasis, as it is known today, was believed to be first used by Aurelius Cornelius Celsus (25 BCE-45 CE). However, it took centuries before an Englishman, Robert Willan (1757-1813) described psoriasis accurately. The complete clinical separation between psoriasis and leprosy was done by Hebra and Kaposi in 1876.

Although advances in medical science have been seen during the twentieth century, many of us (psoriasis sufferers) are still feeling the embarrassment brought about by the disease. If we compare ourselves with those of the patients during ancient times, isn't it a comfort to know that we belong to this generation?

Photo credit: Eleventh Earl of Mar (

Bos, J. (2004). Skin Immune System. (London: Informa Healthcare).

Roenigk, H. and Maibach, H. (1998). Psoriasis. (London:Informa Healthcare).

van de Kerkhof, P. (2003). Textbook of Psoriasis. (New Jersey:Wiley-Blackwell).


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