Living with Psoriasis
Psoriasis can have a profound impact on a person's quality of life, including their physical and emotional well-being and their activities of daily living. For those most severely affected, this may even adversely affect their personal relationships and present problems at work.
Coping with this chronic condition can be challenging. Although there may be times when those people living with psoriasis feel healthy, strong and resilient, the reality is that feelings of isolation, loneliness and embarrassment can also occur.
The physical symptoms of psoriasis
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease characterised by red, heavily scaled patches of skin that can affect any part of the body. Symptoms can include pain, discomfort, skin redness and tightness.
The itch associated with psoriasis can be very difficult to manage and is recognised as having a profound impact on quality of life. Some describe it as a prickly burning sensation and bleeding can occur as a result of scratching.
The impact of psoriasis
Pain and misperceptions of body image can interfere with daily life either directly, due to impaired physical activity such as manual dexterity, or indirectly due to the psychological consequences of the disease.
People with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress and depression as well as low self-esteem.
Psoriasis plays a role in multiple aspects of a patient’s daily life, including personal and social relationships, work-related interactions, and emotional behaviour.
Daily living with psoriasis
Psoriasis can impact on every aspect of daily life such as walking, standing, sitting for long periods of time, use of hands, sleeping, social situations, working and even intimacy in relationships.
Apart from discomfort, people can feel embarrassed about the constant flaking of skin scales and spend considerable time applying treatments, bathing or showering more often, and struggling with clothing choice or the need to change clothes more often. Often dark coloured clothes, shorts, skirts and short sleeved tops are unacceptable to people living with psoriasis.
People with psoriasis often report that they are stigmatised because of their condition and often have to deal with other people’s misconceptions about the skin disease.
Many people with psoriasis readily admit to avoidance coping as a strategy for dealing with the disease. They may choose not to attend places such as public swimming pools, gyms and health clubs for fear of embarrassment and possible rejection. Some people with severe psoriasis have experienced problems with receiving equal service or treatment in various service establishments such as hair salons, barbershops and beauty spas.
Working when you have psoriasis can be problematic. Difficulties can include:
Disability as a result of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis
Changes required to the workplace environment
Disruption in daily activities
Discrimination from colleagues
Inability to find work due to social stigma
Reduced productivity (presenteeism)
Time off due to sickness (absenteeism)
Financial distress resulting from loss of earnings
Psoriasis affects an individual’s quality of life which in turn creates an economic impact on the individual and on society.
In the United Kingdom, the cost related to presenteeism and absenteeism in people with psoriasis was estimated to be £1.07 billion per year in 2016. In 2013, the estimated total cost in the United States ranged from US$ 112 to US$ 135 billion.
Living with psoriasis presents unique challenges. The positive news is that the Global Psoriasis Atlas is helping to raise awareness and develop a greater understanding of the global burden of this complex chronic skin condition and its impact on the individual and on society.
The interactive web platform is helping to educate the public about psoriasis; supporting and reporting on the latest research; building a rapport between patients, researchers and healthcare workers; and ultimately improving the quality of life for individuals with psoriasis around the world.