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Living with Psoriasis is more than skin deep

Living with Psoriasis is more than skin deep

New online psoriasis resource launched following research findings

29 October 2014 - Living with psoriasis can affect many aspects of your daily life including your overall physiological and emotional health1. To coincide with World Psoriasis Day (29 October) and help people understand and manage their condition more effectively, a new educational website, mypsoriais.co.nz has been launched by AbbVie.

In New Zealand there has been a real need for information specifically for Kiwis, as a survey* by AbbVie revealed many New Zealanders (57% of survey participants) have never accessed any type of online psoriasis support.2 mypsoriasis.co.nz specifically addresses this need by providing a range of support materials including a useful ‘My Journey’ tab to help patients map their psoriasis journey and learn some of what they can expect as part of living with psoriasis in New Zealand.

Psoriasis is a relatively common autoimmune disease that affects one in 50 New Zealand adults. It is caused by over-activity of the immune system in the skin. It most frequently develops in young adults and continues throughout their life. The most common form of psoriasis causes raised, inflamed, scaly, red skin lesions, known as plaques.1

Dermatologist Dr Steven Lamb says World Psoriasis Day is a really important event in helping raise awareness of an often overlooked condition.

“World Psoriasis Day provides a good opportunity to educate the public about psoriasis and highlights what it’s like living with the condition. It also helps those living with psoriasis realise that there are effective treatments and that they don't have to put up with the symptoms and psychological effects that come with having psoriasis.”

The online quantitative survey completed by 492 New Zealanders also found there was a lack of available information on the likely prognosis and implications of psoriasis at diagnosis, with nearly half of survey respondents (49%) indicating that they did not feel they were given sufficient information about the condition and what their diagnosis meant for them.2

Feedback such as this from patients and a lack of awareness in the community about psoriasis were the driving forces behind creating the educational website.

“We have a greater understanding now of the psychological and social effects of psoriasis on the individual patients who live with the condition having significant impaired quality of life. Patients have social isolation issues, difficulty maintaining relationships, avoidance of social situations and higher rates of stress and anxiety.

“There is also good evidence now that psoriasis is more than just a skin disease with up to 30% having arthritis symptoms and other comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol intake and cardiovascular disease. Consequently psoriasis patients have a reduced life expectancy as well as a poorer quality of life,” adds Dr Lamb.

Mike Jones, from Christchurch, developed psoriasis when he was in his early twenties. At the time he had a large social network, swam 4.5km a day and travelled extensively overseas.

“After the psoriasis worsened, my mental state became really bad and I started suffering from mild depression. The impact it had on my life was massive. Socially I cut myself off completely. I wasn’t coping with work because my skin was so uncomfortable all the time. I stopped swimming and other sporting activities completely, and I stopped travelling and going to the beach. It’s hard to explain the emotional turmoil the condition puts you through.”

Through effective management, support and treatment, Mike’s psoriasis is now largely under control.

“In the early days of my psoriasis worsening, I was simply surviving every day and I couldn’t see an end to it. Understanding psoriasis and how best to deal with it and my emotional well-being were essential parts of me being able to tackle it and learning to live with it,” he says.

Dr Lamb says more needs to be done to encourage those with symptoms to visit their doctor in order to best manage their condition.

“There is a significant portion of patients with severe symptoms that are still being managed on topical medication when other options might be more effective. Early intervention to find the right treatment for each patient can help reduce the physical and psychological impact of the psoriasis,” he says.

www.mypsoriasis.co.nz is a New Zealand-based resource providing extensive questions and answers about psoriasis, video case studies of people living with the condition, downloadable information booklets, an overview of all available treatment options and details of support networks. For more information about psoriasis please contact your healthcare professional, and in addition you can visitwww.mypsoriasis.co.nz

ends


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