Psoriasis: Work with your doctor to overcome

(NC) -- Most people have heard about psoriasis, but many ask what exactly is it?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy, red and scaly rashes that can come and go in different proportions and at different locations on a person's body. While there is no cure, the best way to manage psoriasis is for doctors and patients to work together over the long haul to treat the disease as effectively as possible.

This need to work together becomes even more important for the approximately 30 per cent of patients who develop psoriatic arthritis. In addition to the skin rashes, this condition adds joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Both diseases are the result of problems with the body's immune system.

A recently published international survey of more than 4,200 psoriasis patients and doctors, showed that important disconnects exist between the physician and the patient1. Surprisingly, the survey showed that almost half of the patients (47 per cent) had not seen a healthcare provider in 12 months and about half also considered their treatments burdensome.

Notably, itching was cited as the most common and bothersome symptom, mentioned as such by 43 per cent of the patients, but itching is rarely captured in the various psoriasis disease assessment tools used by physicians. Those tools tend to focus on things more easily measured, such as the size of psoriasis lesions or, in those with psoriatic arthritis, the number of joints affected.

“It is very important for doctors treating psoriasis to work with their patients,” says dermatologist, Dr. Kim Papp. “We need to understand what is most distressing about their disease. The distress varies from patient to patient and can change over time. Patients need to be open, realistic, and honest with themselves when speaking to their doctors about their symptoms and feelings so the most appropriate treatment action plan can be implemented.”

Support for managing the disease and for working effectively with your doctor is available from the Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients at


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