In honor of psoriasis awareness and especially World Psoriasis Day which occurs every October 29th, we have been talking a lot about this chronic skin condition. One of the reasons why it is so important to get the word out about psoriasis is that it is such a common skin disease affecting up to 125 million people worldwide. Recently we have been talking about the impact of psoriasis upon certain populations including women and children. Regardless of your gender or age, there is one unfortunate symptom of psoriasis common to many sufferers and that is pain.
Loved ones including family and friends, as well as the general public, may have no concept of the physical and emotional pain associated with psoriasis. A comment made upon one of my recent psoriasis articles clued me in that pain is a very important topic when discussing this skin disease.
There are several reasons why individuals with psoriasis may experience pain and they include:
• During a psoriasis flare there can be severe itching to the point of feeling pain. In some cases the skin may crack and even bleed. Many sufferers report that their sleep is disrupted due to this discomfort and pain.
• The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes stiffness and swelling in and around the joints which, subsequently results in pain.
• When psoriasis affects certain areas of the body such as the hands and feet, the pain can affect day to day functioning. For example, the individual having psoriasis on their feet may find wearing shoes during a flare to be difficult if not impossible due to cracking and bleeding skin. Someone with psoriasis on their hands may have a very hard time completing tasks involving hand use such as using a computer. There have been people who have quit their employment or else have been let go because the pain of hand and/or foot psoriasis made their jobs too difficult to do.
Facts, figures, and clinical observations may not have the same impact as hearing from the people who are actually experiencing pain from their psoriasis. One such story comes from a news report on a public awareness campaign to increase awareness of psoriasis. In honor of world psoriasis day, ten patients took part in an Australian photography exhibition called, The Naked Truth. The local news interviewed a patient named Karen Rhueben who took part in the exhibition. Rhueben, who has extreme symptoms and has psoriasis all over her body, described how the pain of her psoriasis stopped her from going to work. She also experienced having skin so inflamed and infected that she had to stay in the hospital and was covered from head to toe in wet bandages. Sadly, this is just one of the many stories out there about how the pain of psoriasis can be disabling.
Psoriasis support group forums are also filled with stories of psoriasis patients who struggle not only with the physical pain induced by psoriasis but also the emotional pain. One such on-line community is called the Psoriasis Cure Now group where members have described how the pain of psoriasis affects their ability to go to school, work, or sleep. Many report that the pain robs them of being there for their family and loved ones because they are too busy dealing with pain issues.
Some psoriasis sufferers take to creative expression as an emotional outlet for dealing with their pain. On the support group called Talk Psoriasis.Org, one member wrote a poem entitled, The Pain that Breaks Me, to describe her on-going battle with both the physical and emotional pain caused by her psoriasis. As you can read by the comments posted to her poem, may other psoriasis patients can empathize.
If you are suffering from pain due to your psoriasis the best thing you can do is to discuss this symptom with your doctor. If one particular treatment is not working, there may be other medications or treatments to decrease the pain and inflammation which only your doctor can prescribe. The other thing which may help is to reach out to your family and friends to talk about the emotional and physical impact of this skin disease. They may not know that you need support if you don’t say anything.
Finding support with other patients having psoriasis can also help. You may find such support here on our My Skin Care Connection community or from psoriasis organizations such as The National Psoriasis Foundation.
In addition, we have information about psoriasis to help. Here are just some of the many articles we have about psoriasis:
We would also like to hear from you. Do you suffer from pain due to your psoriasis? How have you coped with this pain? Are there any treatments which have worked for you? Please share your experiences here as they may help somebody else who is going through the same thing.