Psoriasis may be a skin condition that we now associate with stars like Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne and Alan Carr, but research shows that it's definitely much more than that.
Today is World Psoriasis Day and we thought we'd take a look at what those living with the skin condition feel about it.
With three per cent of the nation (1.8 million) affected by psoriasis, the chronic inflammatory skin disease, why does it continue to remain a relatively forgotten and often misunderstood condition, so much more so than its well-known ‘cousin’ eczema?
Research from Exorex (Forest Laboratories UK Ltd), to mark the launch of its Everyday Psoriasis campaign, has revealed the realities of what it is like to live with psoriasis, a condition that despite its severity varying from person to person, impacts beyond being just skin deep.
With 40 per cent of sufferers surveyed admitting to feeling embarrassed, a fifth depressed and an alarming seven per cent going so far as to say it makes them feel suicidal, the impact the condition has on a person both mentally and emotionally should not be underestimated.
Kate Shapland, The Telegraph Magazine’s Beauty Editor has lived with psoriasis for two decades, she comments: “As anyone who has it knows, psoriasis is a fickle companion. There are days when you feel truly rotten about having it, and days when you are much more philosophical and accepting. You know you are managing it well when you feel the latter more often than the former, to the point where psoriasis is a much smaller part of your life and no longer governing it.”
It seems that general misconceptions about the condition may be partly to blame for the emotional impact psoriasis has on the sufferer. A quarter cite they have experienced someone treating them differently because of their skin
Perhaps it’s these reactions that lead psoriasis sufferers to admit they face certain barriers when it comes to everyday things that many wouldn’t give a second’s thought. 16 per cent avoid going on a date, while one in six will not go on holiday in fear of having to bare all.
Almost a fifth claim that psoriasis has held them back in their job, with more than half feeling that co-workers act as if there is something wrong with them because of the way they look. Sadly, one in five state they feel no colleagues want to work with them.
These feelings are not just limited to the workplace. A quarter claim that the condition affects their ability to form romantic relationships, pinpointing psoriasis as the key reason behind a relationship breakdown.
A third say their partner was unable to cope when they went through a ‘low’ patch, while 38 per cent had felt their partner found them unattractive as a result of the condition.
Despite a third freely admitting they would feel much happier if their psoriasis suddenly disappeared, one in 10 state that they are determined to combat psoriasis and live a normal life.
World Psoriasis Day
World Psoriasis Day takes place today in the hope of bringing to light information and awareness of this skin condition.
We have all of the facts you need to know to help spot whether you or a loved one are suffering with it.
Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin condition that produces red, dry plaques of thickened skin.
Some people have such mild psoriasis (small, faint dry skin patches) that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis where virtually their entire body is fully covered with thick, red, scaly skin.
- Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
- Psoriasis has no known cause.
- The tendency toward developing psoriasis is inherited in genes.
- Psoriasis is not contagious.
- Psoriasis gets better and worse spontaneously and can have periodic remissions (clear skin).
- Psoriasis is controllable with medication.
- Psoriasis is currently not curable.
- There are many promising therapies, including newer biologic drugs.
Psoriasis causes skin cells to mature faster than they should, leading to a build-up of excess, immature cells on the skin’s surface. These surplus cells appear as flaky, crusty and raised patches and cause itching, redness, and hardened or dry skin. Although psoriasis most commonly affects the face, back, elbows, knees and legs, about half also experience scalp psoriasis, which can lead to hair loss in extreme cases.
Top tips for managing psoriasis:
Daily baths – use a hypoallergenic soap in your bath to help soothe itchy spots and dry skin. For added relief add finely ground oatmeal or Epsom salts to the running water and remember to avoid hot water and harsh soaps, which can dry out the skin
Stay moisturised – moisturising regularly will keep skin hydrated and reduce flakiness. To avoid irritation smooth lotion over your body using gentle upwards strokes and look out for products that are fragrance free and specifically formulated for sensitive skin
Layering – as we move into winter, remember to layer up with a hat, scarf and gloves to protect your skin from the cold winds and icy rain. Try to avoid wool and synthetic fabrics as these can irritate dry skin; opt for natural materials like cotton and linen instead
Take care of your health – eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake will all help to keep psoriasis under control. People with psoriasis carry an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential
Get some sun – the UV in the sun’s rays slows the growth of skin cells, so getting a moderate dose of sunlight where possible will help keep flare ups under control. Remember to use a sunscreen this is designed for sensitive skin
Soothing skin solutions for psoriasis
NEW Dermalex Repair Scalp Psoriasis is a non-greasy, steroid and coal-tar free scalp psoriasis treatment for mild to moderate scalp psoriasis. In clinical studies, the treatment has been proven to reduce scalp itching from the first week, and has shown a reduction in scaling from two weeks. Safe for long term use, the gel is available in 75g pack size (RRP £18.99*) from Lloyds Pharmacy, selected Boots stores, Amazon and online at www.lloydspharmacy.com, Boots.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Dermalex Repair Psoriasis treats psoriasis symptoms and helps prevent future flare ups by activating the skin’s own repair mechanism, whilst also forming a moisturising micro-shield on the skin which calms and soothes irritation. The cream normalises skin cell maturation and is available in two pack sizes 60g and 150g (RRP £18.99/£29.99*) from Lloyds Pharmacy, selected Boots stores and online at www.lloydspharmacy.com and Boots.com.
Eau Thermale Avène Akérat 10 Body Cream - £15.00, 200ml from Boots
A gentle, fragrance and paraben free formula, containing 47% Avène Thermal Spring Water, renowned for its soothing and anti-irritating properties. The formula also combines urea to enhance skin hydration as well as salicylic and lactic acids to alleviate symptoms of dry, flaking skin and to restore a smooth and velvety appearance.
The formula can also soothe the symptoms of keratosis pilaris, a common skin condition affecting up to 40% of the UK. Keratosis pilaris is a genetic disorder characterised by rough, bumpy skin and blocked hair follicles and is most commonly found on the tops of arms, legs and buttocks.
Australian Bodycare Treatment Shampoo - £9.99, 250ml from Australianbodycare.co.uk
As well as 2% Tea Tree Oil to treat the itchiness and flaking of dry scalps, this soothing and repairing shampoo also benefits from added lipids, vitamins and emollients which give added shine, help smooth the hair when drying and reduce hair breakage.
Sensitive Very Gentle Calming Serum (30ml) - £28.50, 30ml from Debenhams
Very Gentle Calming Serum is a highly effective SOS product, delivering a soothing and hydrating rescue treatment for fragile, irritated or intolerant skin. It delivers peace and comfort while helping fine line and wrinkles appear smoother. Natural spring water, anti-inflammatory calendula and chamomile combine with antioxidant-rich green tea to soothe and calm.
Care Aqueous Emollient Cream SLS Free, £2.99, 100ml from independent pharmacies
Care Aqueous Emollient Cream SLS Free is a gentle yet effective 2-in-1 emollient and soap substitute which is perfect for keeping dry and flaky skin in top condition. Fragrance and colour free, it can be used as an emollient to put valuable moisture back into dry skin, or in the bathroom as a non-drying alternative to soap or shower gel. Care Aqueous Emollient Cream is free from SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) – a known skin irritant. Suitable for all ages.