Patients with psoriasis need a thorough assessment to detect any manifestation of the condition on other organs Image Credit: Shutterstock

Your body’s biggest organ, your skin shields you from the elements. While it’s tough, it’s not impenetrable. Allergens, environmental irritants, infection, hereditary factors and stress are just a few of the forces that can trigger or aggravate skin issues. Some conditions can be unsightly but harmless, while others may be contagious. Many skin conditions such as psoriasis are also itchy or painful.

“Psoriasis presents as raised red, scaly patches predominantly outside of the elbows, knees or scalp,” says Dr Srikumar Goturu, Specialist Dermatologist and Medical Director at Dr Joseph’s Polyclinic, Karama. “Some patients suffer from pain, described as itchy, burning or pungent. It is not just a skin disease. It is an inflammatory systemic disease, often associated with diabetes, heart disease, joint swelling, inflammatory bowel disease, depression or even cancer.”

About 3-5 per cent of the population suffer from this chronic disease. It can be disabling, disfiguring and devastating. In all cases, patients report a massive impact on their quality of life.

Psoriasis is a lifelong ailment, causing heavy economic burden, leading in many cases to a debilitating impact on professional life and psychosocial functioning.

Patients with psoriasis need a thorough assessment to detect any manifestation of the condition on other organs. “Treatment of organ manifestations and psychological support will be considered in every treatment plan,” explains Dr Goturu. “The specific treatment of the skin depends on the seriousness of the lesions and is tailored to the patient’s needs. They are all effective if applied according to severity and the principle of escalation.”

Step-by-step approach

The first line of approach is topical treatments such as creams, ointments and coal tar. For moderate to serious psoriasis, light therapy (PUVA) is considered followed by medication therapy. Serious patients are also treated with immune modulation and biological therapy, which uses biological substances to stimulate the immune system to fight the disease.

Amber Clinics applies all treatment modalities licensed in Dubai. The most modern — biological treatment – has been in use for four years.

There is a difference in treatment for adults and children. Plans for children need to be chosen very carefully as side effects are more common and serious. “This is why some of the treatment modalities licensed for adults are not allowed for children,” explains Dr Goturu.

“As psoriasis is frequently associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle issues, respective diet- and lifestyle-related measures are advised,” says Dr Goturu. “However, the most important step is to stop smoking.”

Emotional impact

The worst effects of psoriasis sometimes are emotional. You may feel like the disease gets in the way of your relationships. Depending on where it is on your body, it can be embarrassing and people around you may not understand your condition and treat you strangely. Social problems, depression, substance abuse including alcoholism, job loss and marital issues are frequently seen and need to be treated adequately, says Dr Goturu.

“Revolutionary changes could be achieved in the treatment of psoriasis, with excellent control and improvement in lesions by over 90 per cent in many cases,” adds Dr Goturu. At Karama Clinics, Dr Goturu and a dedicated team of nurses and physicians have developed an outstanding programme for psoriasis. All modern elements of therapy, including immune therapy, are applied with much success.

Hand in hand: Support for psoriasis patients

Psoriasis leaves patients incredibly self-conscious with worries and uncertainties about their future. Meeting other people suffering from the disease and exchanging experiences and coping mechanisms, or just simply spending time with like-minded friends can help and reassure patients.

Dr Joseph’s Polyclinic runs a support group that holds regular meetings for people to exchange information and experiences in a semi-private setting.

Enrolment is free of cost.

For details call 04 337 8828 or email docsrikumar@gmail.com