It is not surprising these days to talk about diseases such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes – serious diseases that people have to deal with their whole lives and not travel for their treatment. It’s great that we can bring these issues public and make treatments more widely available, improving the quality of life for those affected.
However, there are still less serious but no less healthy diseases for many people that we sweep under the rug. Sometimes we don’t accept them as real disorders, downplay the experience of having these disorders, or even shame the person because their condition changes them in ways we can’t understand.
And when we’re not talking about specific conditions, we’re making it worse for people who have to live with those diseases, and it’s negatively impacting medical science because there’s less focus on finding improvements for them.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that speeds up the production of skin cells, causing immature skin cells to appear on the surface of the skin as patches of silver scales.
The extent of psoriasis can range from small scales to covering the majority of the skin’s surface, most often appearing on the elbows, knees, and scalp. The spots can become red and inflamed, and can sometimes crack and bleed.
Episodes of psoriasis occur in cycles: there is an exacerbation of symptoms for days or weeks, then they begin to recover without active symptoms, and only return when they are caused by conditions such as stress or another illness.
Psoriasis is not contagious. Not even when you touch the lesions of someone with psoriasis.
Prevalence: Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease: 7.5 million Americans (or 2% of the US population) have been diagnosed with psoriasis.
What you can do: There is currently no cure for psoriasis. Treatment aims to relieve pain and slow the growth of skin cells to stop scaling. Your doctor may give you topical treatments for your skin, medications to control your immune system, and ultraviolet light therapy.
To live with psoriasis, it is important to recognize and control your triggers. Stress is a common and preventable cause. You can manage stress through breathing exercises, meditation, art or sports, and verbally speaking to a support system.