October 29th is Psoriasis Awareness Day. Whether you have psoriasis or someone you love does, this is a great time to get the word out about this chronic skin condition. The following are five ways you can do to help raise awareness.
Know the facts
Before you can inform others about psoriasis, make sure you have accurate information. Despite the dearth of knowledge available, myths surrounding the condition abound. Here, some fast facts to help you better understand psoriasis.
- Psoriasis is not contagious. You can’t catch it from contact with someone who has it.
- More than 8 million people in the United States have psoriasis according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The first outbreak usually occurs between the ages of 15 and 35 but it can appear at any age.
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when the immune system reacts to a perceived threat by rapidly creating new skin cells. It doesn’t occur because of poor hygiene.
- Psoriasis triggers vary depending on the person. There are some common triggers, such as stress, infection or trauma to the skin. However, not everyone with psoriasis reacts the same way to triggers.
- There is no cure for psoriasis. There are treatments available and, while these treatments can help control the disease, they do not cure it.
Educate one person
Awareness can begin with one single person. When you have the opportunity to explain what psoriasis is and how it affects those that have it, take it. That one person could tell someone else, who might tell another person. Awareness doesn’t mean you have to talk to the masses, but opening one person’s eyes can set off a chain reaction.
Use social media to share information
Share accurate articles with others on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. With all the misinformation out there, it is important to share fact-based information. You can also share personal stories of what it is like to live with psoriasis. Many people see psoriasis as a “cosmetic” problem, but those living with it know it is so much more. It can cause pain, intense itching, and general discomfort. Almost one-third of those with plaque psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. If you aren’t ready to share your story, look for blogs written by people living with psoriasis and share links to those.
Advocacy organizations such as the National Psoriasis Foundation and Psoriasis Speaks help raise awareness, provide accurate information, and give people with psoriasis a way to connect with support groups. You can get involved by donating money, volunteering, or spreading the word about these organizations. Check for local support groups to find out how you can help.
Reach out to your local community. Some ideas include:
- Write an article for your local paper
- Organize an educational seminar
- Contact local television and radio shows requesting an interview
- Create a presentation for local schools
- Book a table at local health fairs and distribute information
Taking steps to raise awareness might reach one person or it could reach thousands. Your efforts might make one person feel less alone, could help family members and friends better understand what someone with psoriasis is going through, or it could help inspireothers to share their story. Whether you start small or large, spreading accurate information about psoriasis is important.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.