Overcome a psoriasis diagnosis and take back your life
posted: Sep. 06, 2021.
Dry, flaky skin can sap your confidence and cause you to cover up areas of your body that make you feel insecure. Whether it’s from a temporary condition like a sunburn or a chronic disease like psoriasis, skin that doesn’t appear healthy may lead you to seek help from a dermatologist.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 8 million Americans struggle with psoriasis, which causes a person’s immune system to go into overdrive and produce skin cells at an accelerated rate. Instead of shedding the excess skin where nobody can see, a psoriasis sufferer’s body will collect the skin cells on its surface, producing red patches of skin with white scales.
Living with psoriasis isn’t easy, especially because its appearance can lead to a lot of misinformation. Here are five myths about psoriasis to help increase understanding about the most common autoimmune disease in the United States.
Myth 1: Psoriasis is a one-size-fits-all diagnosis
There are five different types of psoriasis, and someone with the condition may suffer from only one or multiple types. Sometimes one type will manifest itself and then transform into another type. About 80% of people have plaque psoriasis, but it’s also possible to develop guttate, inverse, pustular, or erythrodermic psoriasis. Each type has a distinct appearance, and the location of the psoriasis is also a significant hint about what type you have.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the most serious, causing burnt-looking skin, intense pain, itching, and a rapid heartbeat. Dermatologists warn that you should go to the hospital immediately if you have symptoms of erythrodermic psoriasis because they may be life-threatening.
Myth 2: Psoriasis is curable
Unfortunately, psoriasis is a lifelong condition that currently has no cure. If you suffer from psoriasis, your main goal is to manage the appearance of it and any uncomfortable symptoms.
Myth 3: Psoriasis is untreatable
Even though psoriasis won’t necessarily go away, there are several options for people to treat the disease and experience positive outcomes.
"There are more treatment options available for psoriasis than ever before. Deciding which one is best for you is an important conversation to have with your dermatology provider,” says Savannah Ray, PA-C, at Gardens Dermatology.
Depending on the severity of psoriasis, your dermatologist will select a treatment that will combat your symptoms and prevent them from worsening. Psoriasis that covers more than 10% of the body is considered severe.
Mild bouts of psoriasis can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as moisturizers or anti-itch creams. If those aren’t enough to relieve symptoms, your dermatologist may prescribe a topical treatment with more powerful ingredients. For more severe psoriasis, light therapy, oral medications, or injectable drugs may be recommended.
Treatment decisions are ultimately up to you, but people with psoriasis are more susceptible to psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. In addition, stopping a prescribed medication may cause your current psoriasis to morph into another type and become more serious.
Myth 4: Psoriasis is contagious
No matter how horrifying it looks, psoriasis is not contagious. You won’t “catch” psoriasis from touching or being near someone who has it. People who develop psoriasis seem to inherit it genetically, predisposing them to certain environmental triggers that can cause the disease to manifest. Those triggers include stress, strep throat, certain medications, cold and dry weather, cuts, or sunburns.
Myth 5: Psoriasis is self-diagnosable
Psoriasis requires a dermatologic diagnosis because other skin conditions can cause similar symptoms, Ray says. Many skin reactions can produce rashes or scaly, flaky skin, which means you may overlook a more serious condition or overreact to a temporary blemish. A dermatologist will be able to discuss your medical history, family history, and any recent behaviors to rule out possibilities other than psoriasis, including but not limited to eczema, ringworm, lupus, or even skin cancer.
You can learn more about psoriasis and treatment options by visiting gardensdermatology.com.