Any idea what the most common autoimmune disease in the United States is? The answer is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that appears on the skin and affects as many as 75 million Americans. It occurs when the immune system sends faulty signals that speed up skin cell growth causing red scaly patches on the skin that can crack, itch, and bleed. In spite of it being the most common autoimmune disease, the general public still has many misconceptions about psoriasis. We’re here to clarify some of those misconceptions.
Myth #1 Psoriasis is a contagious disease
Fact: Psoriasis is ultimately caused by your DNA. It is not contagious. Genes control everything in your body from your eye color to how tall you are. When they are working correctly, they keep your body functioning normally. When a misstep occurs in how your genes work, a genetic disease is usually the result. Psoriasis is one example of what happens when genes take a misstep.
Myth #2 Everyone who inherits psoriasis will have breakouts
Fact: Experts believe that 10 percent of the general population inherit one or more genes for psoriasis. However, only 2 to 3 percent of the population actually develop the disease due to what scientists believe is a combination of triggers. Psoriasis triggers can be internal or external factors, and vary from person to person. Learn to recognize what triggers your psoriasis to help keep flares under control or in remission.
Myth #3 Psoriasis only affects certain areas of the body.
Fact: Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body. Psoriasis can be triggered by internal or external factors which vary from person to person. Up to 30% of individuals with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis which causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints which affects the whole body.
Myth #4 Psoriasis is a result of poor hygiene
Fact: Although psoriasis appears on the skin, it is not caused by nor does it worsen because of poor personal hygiene. However, good hygiene is always recommended for everybody. 🙂
Myth #5: Psoriasis is nothing more than a cosmetic condition
Fact: Psoriasis is a severe autoimmune disease that doesn’t have a cure. Symptoms that appear on the skin can cause pain, discomfort, and psychological distress for many people. People with psoriasis are more likely to become depressed. Working with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be challenging. People with psoriasis may need to take time off for doctor appointments or ask for changes to their work environment. Psoriasis can also impact relationships with friends, family, and significant others. It’s much more than a simple cosmetic problem.
Myth #6: There is no treatment for psoriasis
Fact: While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options available to help minimize the symptoms of the disease. Topical treatments with and without steroids are usually the first line of defense in treating psoriasis. Phototherapy, also known as light therapy is another option. As is systemic medications which are prescription drugs that work throughout the body. Finally, Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional, or Western, medicine. CAM therapies include diet and nutrition, herbal remedies, and more. Keep in mind treatment is individualized from person to person. What works for someone else may not work for you. Working closely with a medical professional is key to bringing psoriasis into remission.
For more information about how to manage your psoriasis or to schedule an appointment, call us at (662) 348-3342. It’s our mission to help our patients manage ongoing conditions by providing the healthcare you need close to where you live and work. Come by our office located just off Highway 45 in Guntown, Mississippi. We accept both appointments and walk-ins.