With the end of Psoriasis Awareness Month rapidly approaching, now is a good time to turn attentions to Penn State’s Medical Minute, which last week dedicated itself to clearing up some myths about the skin disease. Treatment options and contagions are covered, as well as the fact that it isn’t actually a skin disease.
Psoriasis affects around two to five percent of the U.S. population, though severity will vary between those who have the condition. Some people might experience minor rashes that are easy to miss or ignore while others could find large swaths of their body growing scaly, red plaques. One of the myths about psoriasis that Penn State covers is that it is a skin disease.
As mentioned, this is a mislabelling. Although the skin is heavily involved, psoriasis is actually a type of inflammatory disease that can involve joints and the immune system. This is why, for instance, people with psoriasis are at higher rates for heart disease or inflammatory bowel disease. There is even a type of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, which is tied to the condition.
Though they can sometimes be alarming to onlookers, the skin lesions of psoriasis are not contagious. The condition can be genetic but there is no risk of catching psoriasis from someone else.
Perhaps the most important myth that Penn State tackles is the idea that there is no effective psoriasis treatment. While this may have been true at one point in time, modern developments offer a few different approaches for patients. In addition to topical treatments that aim at removing plaques and smoothing or soothing the skin, treatment can also focus on preventing the skin cell overgrowth responsible for the plaque formation in the first place.
Oral medications, light or laser applications, or topical creams can all be employed on their own or in concert. It is highly advisable for anyone with psoriasis to not give up and to speak with a doctor or pharmacist about their options.
“The Medical Minute: Clearing up common myths about psoriasis,” Penn State web site, August 25, 2016; http://news.psu.edu/story/422565/2016/08/25/medical-minute-clearing-common-myths-about-psoriasis, last accessed August 29, 2016.