The Psychological Burden of Psoriasis

Alex Gazzola reports on a new survey looking at the emotional effects of this chronic skin disorder

Ninety-four percent of GPs acknowledge that they do not have the time to ask patients with psoriasis what impact the chronic skin condition is having on their life, according to the results of a new patient survey, entitled Psoriasis Perceptions, conducted by Opinion Health.

The research also found that 78% of female sufferers have damaged confidence as a result of their psoriasis, that almost a third of men with the disease have problems with their relationships because of it, and that two thirds of all sufferers are embarrassed by the condition of their skin.

Popular psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous, co-editor of Psychodermatology: The Psychological Impact of Skin Disorders, has spoken out about the physical and social impact of the condition, arguing that it can lead to relationship problems, work problems, social isolation and in some cases depression.

A number of studies and earlier surveys have shown that psoriasis – which affects 2% of the population – increases the likelihood of suicide, with one in ten sufferers so distressed by the condition of their skin that they consider taking their own lives. Indeed, up to 350 deaths each year may be attributable to psoriasis, warn experts.

Speaking at the joint launch of a new patient-support website, More Than Psoriasis, and a new gel formulation of the established psoriasis prescription treatment Dovobet, Papadopolous also warned that “the impact of psoriasis upon both physical and emotional functioning can be comparable to that seen in cancer, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease or diabetes”. 

A survey of pharmacists also conducted by Opinion Health found that 90% do not think that psoriasis patients are given enough post-prescription support by their GPs.

The More Than Psoriasis site offers suggestions and advice on how to deal with the emotional impact of psoriasis. It includes tips on establishing open and honest relationships with friends and partners, how to open dialogue with work colleagues for a more comfortable working environment, to how to deal with the often difficult and sometimes embarrassing area of sex and relationships. For further information, see www.morethanpsoriasis.co.uk

April 2011

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