Friday, June 5, 2009
The thought of living with psoriasis for the rest of your life is not an easy thing to accept. Although we have witnessed medical advances in recent decades, we are still being told to face the fact that there is no available cure for psoriasis yet. The most we can do is to manage the symptoms and try the best we can to avoid the triggers that cause psoriasis flare-ups.
We often ask our dermatologists what things cause the disease, and sometimes, even the specialists do not know how to explain or would rather not go into those details. Others simply prescribe different medications, whether topical, oral, or biologics, to treat the disease. The truth really is that the main cause of psoriasis is, up to this date, still unknown.
Researchers currently believe this hereditary disease is mediated by a set of T-cells whose autoimmune profile is highly susceptible to certain triggers. Some factors that could provoke the adverse reactions include stress, both physical and emotional; particular skin injuries or traumas (associated with Koebner’s phenomenon); bacterial infections (which triggers guttate psoriasis); and, various drugs (such as beta-blockers and anti-malarial medications).
Social and Psychological Implications
We often find it difficult to make the necessary adjustments in our lives when we are told that we have psoriasis. The disease does not only affect our physical appearance, but it also gives discomforts due to its itchiness and pain. People who do not understand psoriasis often think that we have a contagious disease. Sometimes, we find ourselves discriminated against in public places. It leads us to isolate ourselves from the public because of embarrassment and the stigma brought about by the disease. Depression, which only aggravates the condition, can also be found in some psoriasis patients.
Unlike vitiligo (another skin disorder) which can be disguised by cosmetic concealment, we cannot hide our skin lesions using that method. (Paging cosmetic companies, can you please manufacture one for us?) Our choices of clothing are constrained. We may want to wear the latest fashion styles, but we are restricted by our disease. Indeed, psoriasis has brought a significant impact in our quality of life.
Basic Things We Can Do
Managing the disease is a challenging task for us. Accepting psoriasis as a part and parcel of our lives will surely divert our emotional energy from depressing thoughts to more productive activities; this acceptance should relieve us of unnecessary stress associated with the condition. While fear and ignorance about the disease is still common these days, we can choose to have a positive attitude despite living with psoriasis. At least, society no longer ostracizes people with psoriasis unlike in biblical times.
Photo credit: tomswift46 (flickr.com)
Buxton, P. and Morris-Jones, R. (2007). ABC of Dermatology. (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell).