World Psoriasis Day, an awareness day dedicated to the 125 million people diagnosed with psoriasis around the world, was created by The International Federation of Psoriasis Association and recently took place on October 29, 2017. The theme this year was Psoriasis Inside Out.
Members of the National Psoriasis Foundation’s medical board recently spoke with The Dermatologist to discuss the importance of the awareness day and its impact, as well as what patients and dermatologists can take away from the event.
Having a recognition day such as this provides a global spotlight on this important public health issue of psoriasis, noted Lawrence J Green, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine.
“World Psoriasis Day helps to increase awareness for both people living with psoriasis and their loved ones and also for people who know little about psoriasis. It’s about recognition. Recognition demonstrates to people with psoriasis and their loved ones that the world is listening to them. It raises awareness about the condition to those who know little about psoriasis, hopefully encouraging them to learn more about this disease that is about inflammation occurring throughout the body, not just on the skin,” he said.
Ron Prussick, MD, assistant clinical professor, department of dermatology at George Washington University and medical director, Washington Dermatology Center explained, “This is a very important day for people with psoriatic diseases because it is an opportunity to educate the public. As this is a visible disease, the public needs to understand this is a disease of the immune system and it not infectious or contagious. The goal is to develop a cure but until then, with better knowledge about the disease there will be more tolerance and understanding in the future.”
Impact and Treatment
One goal of the awareness day is to help communicate that psoriasis is a common, important medical condition that can impact the quality and quantity of a patient’s life, according to Richard G.B. Langley MD, FRCPC, a professor of dermatology, division of dermatology, department of medicine, at Dalhousie University.
“Specifically, psoriasis has a profound negative impact on the quality of life for patients and their families, and has a number of significant comorbidities that can cause disabilities and can impact the life expectancy of certain patients,” he said. “With the advent of newer targeted therapies, there is reason for significant hope. However, there is a significant work that needs to be done to provide access of these therapies for this important medical condition and the more awareness raised around this condition, the better.”
Rick Fried, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and clinical psychologist and clinical director Yardley Dermatology Associates/Yardley Clinical Research Associates, noted the day of recognition is an opportunity to discuss and appreciate the psychosocial impact of the disease. “I believe that World Psoriasis Day legitimizes the feelings, physical and emotional burdens, and systemic comorbidities of psoriasis…. a skin, body, and mind inflammatory disease,” he said. “This is a sunset of hope and opportunity. Today there are numerous elegant treatments that can liberate psoriasis sufferers allowing them to live full and unencumbered lives.”
By recognizing that they are not alone, patients can seek treatment and support through the health care community. “World Psoriasis Day encourages patients and dermatologists to make a change today so that those dealing with psoriasis in the future may not be so heavily impacted,” said Jashin J. Wu, MD, director, clinical dermatology research, associate director, the Dermatology Residency Program Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles Medical Center.
“I would hope that patients take away that professional organizations around the world, like the National Psoriasis Foundation are advocating for them. I would hope that professionals see that patients are not giving up on their disease and continue to be active despite the psoriasis,” he said.
Jerry Bagel MD, MS, director, Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey, and senior attending physician, University Medical Center, agreed. “I hope patients and professionals recognize that today there are extremely effective, relatively safe treatments that can effectively treat psoriasis.”
Community for a Cure
“By increasing awareness of this disease throughout the world we hope to let patients and professionals know our goal is to study the cause and develop a cure. We want people with psoriasis to know there is support for them from both the public and medical professional community,” said Dr Prussick.