Demystifying Psoriasis: Insights and Effective Approaches in Managing the Condition
Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects many Malaysians and causes a significant impact on their physical and emotional health. Various myths arise due to the lack of understanding of the disease. In the efforts of increasing public awareness and understanding of psoriasis, Novartis has collaborated with PMCare to invite a healthcare professional to offer his knowledge and expertise on the complex disease. Dr. Peter Ch’ng, who is a consultant dermatologist, was invited to deliver a webinar to discuss some important aspects of psoriasis, such as recognizing the severity of the condition, how individuals manage psoriasis, and the most recent advances in treating psoriasis.
“Psoriasis is not just a skin disease”
Dr. Peter clarified that psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that has affected approximately 2% of the Malaysian population. However, most of the time it is underdiagnosed or mistaken as eczema or fungal infection due to the similar clinical presentations. Psoriasis can be diagnosed through examination of the rashes. The sign of psoriasis includes rashes that usually occur at scalp, elbow, knee, genital as well as nail pitting. These psoriasis rashes normally are presented with well-defined borders and thick silvery scales which are different from other type of rashes. The colour of psoriasis would typically appear salmon pinkish for lighter skin tone whereas psoriasis may look purplish in patients with darker skin tones. The clinical diagnosis of the disease from the physical and psychological aspects are essential for determining the severity of the patient’s condition and which type of treatment is best for the patient.
There are various comorbidities that are closely associated with psoriasis which includes cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, obesity, arthritis and mental health issues. 30% of psoriasis patients are at increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis that affects multiple joints and may resulted in joint deformity.
Dr. Peter continued to mention that the life quality of psoriasis patients was heavily impacted by the condition and associated comorbidities. The quality of life of psoriasis patients is comparable to that of cancer patients. Some patients become more self-conscious and insecure as the severity of their skin condition intensifies which results in anxiety or depression. This not only affect the patient’s relationship with their partner, family members or coworkers but also causes the patient to shy away from social interactions and gatherings.
“I’m afraid that my skin condition would make me lose my job”
– 1 in 3 psoriasis patients
One of the reasons why patients also avoid large crowds is due to the misconceptions that circulate around psoriasis. “The biggest myth that psoriasis patients face when interacting with the public is that others commonly think that psoriasis is infectious”, he said. Psoriasis is definitely not contagious. It is an autoimmune condition and it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
Therefore, Dr. Peter highly emphasized on diagnosing and treating this disease as early as possible to alleviate any form of discomfort and to minimize psychological impact this skin condition has on the patients. As majority of these patients are at their prime of their life, helping the patient to achieve clear or almost clear skin is important. Early detection and treatment are also helpful for managing the risk of developing psoriasis-related comorbidities especially psoriatic arthritis as the joint deformities are irreversible.
Currently there is no cure for psoriasis but fortunately, this skin condition can be well managed as the treatment of psoriasis has evolved over the years. Dr. Peter mentions that there are numerous medications available to help persons with psoriasis control their condition such as topical treatments, classical systemics and biologics. Dr. Peter also explained that the latest therapy made available, biologics are pharmacologically active, targeted protein molecules which are one of the most effective treatments in treating psoriasis.
Watch the full live session of Psoriasis Public Awareness Webinar with Dr Peter at below link:
Coping with psoriasis at work can be a struggle. Click here to find out some key recommendations to help you balance your career with the demands of your condition.