People with psoriasis can often feel alone. Sufferers may not want to leave their home, worried that they’ll be stared at or be asked questions about something they don’t know all that much about, let alone spell correctly. Luckily, the team at Above & Beyond Home Health Care can provide plenty of answers about this condition – along with letting people know the most important thing: you’re not alone.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease where your body may cause visible red scaly and itchy patches to appear anywhere on your body, frequently in more noticeable places such as your scalp, elbows or knees.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, no cause has been found, other than one’s particular genetics and immune system, or trauma. Plus any age, gender or race may be susceptible to it.
Everyday Health says that more than 7.5 million people may suffer from psoriasis, making it the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S.
While there’s no universal permanent cure, certain people respond better than others to certain medicines or medications. It’s possible for it to be gone for years and then return. It also can be linked to other illnesses and may flare up when someone’s immune system is compromised due to other health factors. It’s not uncommon for hospice patients to deal with this as well if they have several advanced health conditions.
But beyond this, there’s quite a lot of uncertainty about this from the public about what psoriasis is and isn’t. Granted, if you or someone close to you is suffering from it, odds are you’ve learned quite a bit more than the average citizen. But it’s important that more people learn more about it.
August has officially been designated as Psoriasis Awareness Month, but health officials are happy to share info and resources anytime, whether it’s educating people or dispelling misinformation.
What not everyone knows:
- It’s not contagious. As humans, many of us have a natural, perhaps primal, reaction to shy away from someone with visible wounds. But health experts agree that being near someone with psoriasis doesn’t mean you’ll catch it. Some of the lesions may look like the very contagious chicken pox or poison oak/ivy sores, and may cause similar itching behavior in the person with them, but psoriasis only bothers the person with it, not anyone around them. It’s not the plague either, so you don’t have to fear someone’s touch by refusing to shake their hand or give them a hug. Someone who refuses these common courtesies out of fear can be disheartening for someone trying to force themselves to go out in public and not feel self-conscious.
- It’s not eczema. That skin condition also can attack similar areas of the body, such as elbows, knees or faces. But biologically, the lesions are different — Psoriasis.org says that psoriasis tissue is generally thicker and more inflamed than eczema. Sometimes, eczema symptoms can be reduced or eliminated through a skin treatment instead of trying to boost the whole body’s defenses like with psoriasis.
- There are different types. People who don’t know much about psoriasis assume that there’s only one type. But there are actually several variations depending on what it looks like, where it appears on the body and its severity. For instance, larger plaque lesions present the more recognizable red round forms. Guttate psoriasis consists of smaller dots and covers a larger surface area. Erythrodermic psoriasis, one of the more advanced forms, causes redness to cover the whole body not just certain small joint areas.
- You can get it from other skin injuries. The medical term is the Koebner Phenomenon, named after the 19th century researcher who concluded that these skin lesions can be caused by trauma to the derma, the first layer of tissue right under the skin. So even a cat scratch or small wound, like a bug bite or scrape, can qualify. The healing skin can create good conditions for an infection to take root and spread.
- Questions can be OK. Certainly people who make rude or cruel comments are best avoided, but your condition may be able to educate people who genuinely want to know what’s happening with you and your body. They may not know much about psoriasis but want to be educated, especially if there’s anything they can do to help you. (There usually isn’t but the support is always welcome).
In a hospice situation
Hospice patients aren’t going to be looking for a cure for psoriasis, but wouldn’t mind relief from their current condition, especially the uncomfortable chronic itching or the pain from lesions.
Hospice home health providers may be able to provide professional care assistance around the clock. He or she can also talk to the patient’s primary care provider about possible treatment options and history, especially if they had flare-ups in the past.
Hospice staff can be especially encouraging and happy to answer your questions. Because they likely have worked with other patients who have this or other autoimmune diseases, they may be familiar with local support groups or bereavement groups in your community.
For more information about psoriasis, including area resources, visit Above & Beyond Home Health Care.