What is the PsO Life Impact?
- Difficulty in getting
a new job
- Effect on
- Feelings/states of
anxiety and depression
Psoriasis is not merely a skin condition. Severe psoriasis is a disabling disease affecting the physical and emotional well-being of patients, and its impact on quality of life is similar to that seen with other debilitating and life-threatening diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. These effects, which are not reflected in measures of skin disease severity, can include embarrassment, stigma, physical discomfort and psychological stress. Over time, these can take a huge toll on a person's overall emotional well-being, social functioning, self-preservation activities, productivity at work or school and self-esteem.
Some ways psoriasis can affect people physically, emotionally and socially are:
- Reduced life expectancy
Recent studies have shown that the substantial co-morbidity burden of psoriasis patients can reduce life expectancy by 3.5-10 years or more. It is important that physicians initiate therapy that will clear the psoriasis, improve quality of life, and potentially decrease the risk of premature death from a psoriasis-related co-morbidity.
- Difficulty in getting a new job, or performing usual job tasks
Psoriasis is associated with difficulties in finding employment. The disease can add to the stress of going for a job interview. Some patients worry that the appearance of psoriasis has made it hard to ‘look professional'. Although employers are not allowed to discriminate against people based on their appearance, the few fear that having psoriasis might hinder them in job interviews.
Psoriasis can also pose many challenges in the workplace. 35% of people with psoriasis reported the condition affected their career, 20% stated it impaired their performance at work and 6% experienced some form of discrimination at work as a result. The visible nature of this autoimmune disease makes it difficult to conceal from coworkers, who may become curious or even mistakenly think the skin condition is contagious. That, in turn, can be very awkward or embarrassing for someone living with the condition.
Absenteeism is a greater concern for people suffering from psoriasis than their co-workers without psoriasis with nearly 60% patients reporting missing an average of 26 days a year directly related to their psoriasis.
- Effect on self-esteem
Psoriasis patients often experience difficulties like maladaptive coping responses, problems with body image, self-esteem, and also have feelings of stigma, shame and embarrassment regarding their appearance. As well as having to put up with the itchiness and soreness of flare-ups and plaques, people with psoriasis may feel self-conscious about how it looks and worry about how other people may react or what they may think of them. Therefore, even though feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment about psoriasis are completely natural, it doesn't mean that people with psoriasis have to put up with them. Studies have demonstrated the usefulness of some strategies to help people with psoriasis boost their self-esteem, feel more at ease and keep negative thoughts at bay, such as focusing on their own best attributes (remembering that appearance is only one amongst many aspects of who we are, and that other qualities, such as intelligence, kindness and humor also play a role in defining us) or finding the "feel-good factors" of life (e.g. seeing friends, dancing, playing your favorite sport, etc.).
- Feelings/states of anxiety and depression
Studies have proved that depression is the no. 1 co-morbidity of psoriasis. People with psoriasis are twice as likely to become depressed than the rest of the population. Depression can have a significant impact on quality of life. It's important to look out for symptoms of depression (such as inability to sleep, loss of energy, lack of interest in things, inability to focus, etc.) and seek treatment if necessary.
How can I live better with PsO?
- Try a
- Enjoy controlled
- Avoid drinking too much
alcohol and smoking
- Link to local
Psoriasis is challenging, and not everyone copes the same way. Adopting these healthy habits can go a long way in reducing your risk of complications caused by psoriasis and an overall better state of health:
- Try a healthy diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly is beneficial for everyone's health. But, if you're living with psoriasis, making healthy choices is even more important. Although there's no evidence supporting a specific "psoriasis diet", people with psoriasis testify to feeling better when they avoid foods that have been shown to cause or increase inflammation (such as processed foods, nightshade vegetables, fatty red meats and refined sugar) and consume foods that are known to reduce inflammation (e.g. foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, albacore tuna, walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds, and colorful fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, and blueberries).
- Reduce stress
Although stress does not cause psoriasis, researchers have found a direct connection between flare-ups and stress. Therefore, patients with psoriasis should find effective ways to reduce stress such as exercising regularly, taking deep breaths, talking to a therapist or participating in patient support groups/forums.
- Enjoy controlled sun exposure
Light, whether natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet (UV), rays often have a positive effect on psoriasis, and light therapy is one of the mainstay treatments for the condition. However, although sunlight can benefit psoriasis, patients with this condition –predominantly very fair skinned people, who are at a greater risk of sunburn and skin cancer– should take care to protect themselves from sunburn, which can lead to flares and other skin problems. Natural sunbathing is not monitored in a medical setting like phototherapy is, and medications you may be taking can increase photosensitivity. Thus, patients with psoriasis should consider options to maximize sun protection and avoid a bad reaction, such as applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15, putting on protective clothing, wearing sunglasses or seeking shade.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol and smoking
Neither of these habits is good for anyone. But they may be even worse for people with psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the chemicals in tobacco may trigger inflammation that can both cause psoriasis and make flares more severe. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption may interfere with your response to psoriasis treatment and make it less effective.
- Use emollients
People with psoriasis have very dry skin. Therefore, it's important to moisturize the skin at least twice daily with products containing natural ingredients such as healing essential oils (e.g. lavender, tea tree, neem and geranium oils), hydrating lotions containing coconut oil or aloe or soothing witch hazel extracts. It's best to put on lotion immediately after a shower because the skin will retain more moisture. The thicker the moisturizer the better -creams and ointments lock in more moisture in the skin.
- Link to local patients associations
The following is a list of patient support groups for those suffering from psoriasis: