There are many myths surrounding psoriasis, the main being that it is a contagious condition. These myths and misconceptions do not help anyone who suffers from psoriasis. Instead, they can increase the burden of what is often already an emotionally distressing and physically painful condition.
Myth: Psoriasis is contagious
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin – often producing patches called plaques that can crack and bleed. Many people see lesions on the skin and assume they’re something that they can catch. Psoriasis is not a skin infection and is not contagious. You cannot catch it from touching another person.
Myth: Psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene
Although it appears on the skin, psoriasis is a disease of the immune system and is not caused or exacerbated by poor personal hygiene. People with psoriasis have a genetic tendency to develop the condition and no amount of cleaning of the skin can prevent psoriasis from precipitating or exacerbating. Stress, infection, skin injury, hormonal changes, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to certain medications can trigger a flare-up of psoriasis.
Myth: Psoriasis is only a cosmetic condition
Psoriasis is a serious, chronic, lifelong autoimmune disease. Its symptoms, which usually emerge on the skin as flaky scales, are not only embarrassing but can also cause physical pain and intense itching. In addition, 10 to 30 per cent of psoriasis patients may develop psoriatic arthritis. Like other forms of inflammatory arthritis – such as rheumatoid arthritis – psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Myth: Psoriasis is simple to diagnose
As skin rashes are common, doctors have to rule out other causes, such as allergic reactions to food or medication, viruses, or eczema, before they can make a diagnosis of psoriasis. A psoriasis diagnosis requires careful visual inspection and sometimes even a skin biopsy. If you are concerned you may have psoriasis you should visit your GP or ask for a referral to a dermatologist.
Myth: Psoriasis cannot be treated
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways to relieve its symptoms. Psoriasis treatments may include topical creams or ointments, pills or injections, and UV or light therapy administered by a dermatologist. Visiting a dermatologist is the best way to find out which treatment options are available and the most appropriate for your skin.
Myths and misconceptions about psoriasis can have serious consequences. The myth that psoriasis is a contagious skin conditions can lead to discrimination, which can leave the sufferer feeling embarrassed, anxious, unattractive and depressed.
The myth that psoriasis is not a serious condition is just as dangerous, as it can dissuade people from seeking treatment. Failure to treat psoriasis can lead to needless suffering from the disease itself and to an increased risk for other health conditions.
Originally posted by: Skin & Cancer Foundation