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People with psoriasis suffer social stigma

Psoriasis sufferers prone to depression, anxiety and even suicide

Gulf News

Dubai: People who have psoriasis, a chronic skin condition marked by raised, red bumps covered with white, flaking scales, may feel stigmatised socially and emotionally, said specialists in dermatology on Wednesday.

Patients with psoriasis are prone to social discrimination and humiliation, and have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep impairment, and suicide, they said.

During the ongoing Dubai World Dermatology and Laser Conference and Exhibition – Dubai Derma at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, which concludes on April 18, specialists spoke of how psoriasis can have a significant emotional toll on patients.

According to the international advocacy organisation National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is a non-contagious, chronic, inflammatory, painful, disfiguring and disabling disease for which there is no cure.

The organisation’s research links patients with psoriasis as feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. It also links the condition to social discrimination and humiliation.

Speaking to Gulf News on the psychosocial impact of psoriasis, Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, Consultant and Head of Dermatology at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and chairperson of the conference said that apart from the physical impact, psoriasis can have adverse emotional effects, leading to a cycle of despair.

“Some patients are unable to cope because the condition has no cure, often resulting in depression and anxiety. They may feel stigmatised when rejected due to their skin disease in various settings and among family members. The social isolation further impacts levels of physical activity, increasing the risk of obesity and other related complicatons,” he said.

Dr Al Hammadi stressed the importance of family, social and emotional support for patients. He explained that patients with psoriasis need support to help them deal with the adverse effects of the condition.

“The lack of knowledge and misunderstanding about the disorder adds to the stigma and emotional stress. Treatment involves topical creams, oral therapy and/or phototherapy,” he said.

Dr Mohammad Al Enezi, consultant dermatologist and head of Dermatology from the Amiri Hospital, Kuwait, and conference speaker told Gulf News that psoriasis is accompanied by other serious medical conditions. “Psoriasis is associated with hypertension, Type II diabetes, coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. It can also increase the risk of severe arthritis in almost 30 per cent of patients.”