Living with Psoriasis? Don’t Compare Your Case to Others
Prevention and Treatment An estimated one million Canadians are living with psoriasis.
While often viewed as a skin issue, it’s actually a chronic immune condition related to the irregular functioning of T cells (a type of white blood cell involved in our immune systems), which causes a rapid buildup of skin cells and inflammation. The result is dry, red, scaly skin that can be sore and itchy.
For many, psoriasis is a burden that can compromise their quality of life. “It can affect many aspects of day-to-day life, from relationships to not wanting to go the gym — situations where someone might be self-conscious about exposing their skin during a flare up,” says Dr. Melinda Gooderham, a Medical Director based in Peterborough, ON with the SKiN Centre for Dermatology.
About 80 to 90 percent of psoriasis cases fall into the mild to moderate category, according to the Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients. Doctors assess patients based on factors like how much of the body is affected and which areas become inflamed. Health care professionals may also have patients fill out a quality of life questionnaire. Those with 3 to 10 percent of their body covered by the condition are considered to have moderate psoriasis.
Treatment critical for those in the middle gap
Mild cases can be treated with topical preparations, while severe ones may be addressed systematically through various oral and injectable drug therapies. Those with moderate conditions fall into a grey area or what is called a ‘middle gap.’
“Some patients don’t seek help because they think they can cope or feel that their condition isn’t bad enough to merit treatment,” says Dr. Gooderham. “Sometimes, they compare themselves to those with severe cases, which they may have seen on the internet and dismiss seeking treatment. Instead, they adapt and normalize.”
There’s also a knowledge gap that prevents those with psoriasis from addressing their condition. Many don’t realize that the current treatment options are quite different from those offered just a decade ago. “Patients may have outdated and incorrect ideas,” says Dr. Gooderham. “They think about older drugs that were more toxic to the liver, but the newer drugs are better. They have less risk from side effects.”
Once patients’ skin is clear, Dr. Gooderham notes that only then do many fully realize just how much psoriasis has affected their lives. This realization underscores the importance that those with moderate psoriasis speak to their doctor about the latest treatments and to learn more by visiting psoriasisstory.ca.
“There is no need for anyone to live with moderate psoriasis,” Dr. Gooderham concludes. “These patients are just as deserving of treatment.”