The Heartache of Psoriasis

For a healthy young person to suddenly find themselves diagnosed with a chronic disease for which there is no cure can be devastating. This coupled with the fact that the disease cannot always be hidden but is often on surfaces of the skin exposed and open to peoples stares and questions or worse still, avoidance can be more than one can handle – Hence the name “the heartache of psoriasis”.

Onset of Psoriasis

The first onset of psoriasis is usually in a person between 10 and 35 years of age. It often has a genetic basis with an environmental stimuli causing the disease onset. The trigger may be emotional stress, anxiety, trauma, infection, seasonal change, or hormonal changes.

Typically, the disease starts on the scalp but this is not always the case. Some people will develop one single life long lesion others may develop many lesions. Some have remissions where the lesions clear up and others are never free of the disease with the lesions being continuously present. The psoriatic lesion is deep red in color, with a silvery scale covering. These scales flake off continuously leaving a trail of dead skin flakes.

Psoriasis is most common on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, but can appear anywhere or everywhere. Most people have some involvement of the nails with the nails appearing discolored and scaly at the base, bitted, and flaking from the free edge of the nail.

As with any illness that can persist for months or years, some people become irritable, tense, depressed or anxious. The condition is especially hard to cope with if it is accompanied by pruritis or itching. Knowing the disease is a life long ailment only adds to the frustration.

People without psoriasis don’t understand…

People without the disease tend to stare, or ask awkward questions, or worse still avoid the person altogether, leading them to feelings of alienation. The disease affects all family members as it disrupts the home life with time consuming, messy, ointments and the constant shedding of scales. This may lead to resentment on the family members side and guilt and frustration on the psoriasis sufferers side. The frustration may be expressed through hostility.

Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the psychological effects of psoriasis as it affects them at a time in their life when physical appearance and peer acceptance is very important. The emotional trauma experienced during the critical teen years may leave life-long scars.

Psoriasis – Live and learn!

Because this disease is chronic and the sufferer will have it for life, it is vital that they learn how to deal with all aspects of the disease, so as not to have their life destroyed.

Firstly, they need to understand that psoriasis is affected by stress, the removal of any precipitating or aggravating factors will therefore help to limit the lesions. Receiving plenty of sunlight, warm weather, and humidity is also helpful for improving their lesions.

Most importantly the psoriasis sufferer must remember that they are not alone. Find a Psoriasis Sufferers Association near you and talk to the other people with the disease. Coming to terms with the disease is vital to obtaining a quality lifestyle.

Mel Sinclair, RN