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Dermatologists ring alarm over psoriasis.

Byline: Iqtidar Gilani

LAHORE -- Psoriasis has affected lives of more than 125 million people worldwide, said leading dermatologists.

Though no reliable data regarding prevalence of psoriasis is available, dermatologists believe that millions of people in Pakistan have been affected by this skin disease.

Lack of awareness is causing development of complications as people in a country like Pakistan do not take skin diseases seriously considering it not a threat to life.

Pakistan Psoriasis Foundation report states that in an analysis of survey data from 5,000 psoriasis patients, 20 percent of women said that psoriasis was a massive problem in their everyday lives, compared to only 12 percent of men. In addition, approximately 60 percent of women said that psoriasis interferes with their ability to enjoy life, as compared to only 52 percent of men. Overall, women have greater difficulty dealing with the psychological and social issues brought about by having psoriasis, a condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.

Prof Azim Jahangir Khan, Professor of Dermatology at Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital said, 'Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease clinically evident as raised inflamed scaly red skin lesions that crack and itch. International Psoriasis Day is observed globally on 29th of October to increase the awareness of one of the most important skin problems.'

'Psoriasis sufferers feel that people in general, including doctors, underestimate the overall impact the disease has on their lives. It is evident that the disease burden of psoriasis extends beyond the physical symptoms experienced by the patient,' he added. 'Health professional and the general public should not minimize its impact as skin disorders are often chronic but not life threatening. But psoriasis severely affects the mental wellbeing of patients. Psychologists who know the impact of the mental anxiety should come forward to help patients,' he urged. He highlighted that psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Almost 10 to 15 percent of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis. The risk for diabetes mellitus rises substantially in patients with psoriasis, with a 62 percent increase in risk noted in patients with severe psoriasis. Psoriasis appears to have a greater impact on women's lives and early cardiovascular deaths have been reported in psoriatic patients.

'Psoriasis has a bimodal age of disease onset. The first peak is around 20 and the second peak is around 60. Around one-third of patients are under the age of 18 years. Childhood obesity and psoriasis is considered amongst one of the prevalent factors. It is said that psoriasis has a genetic basis, as 23.4 percent to 71 percent of children will have a family history of psoriasis,' he said.

Prof Azim Jahangir said, 'Psoriasis is a very much treatable condition and some of the best treatments are available, including narrow band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) as well as latest biologic agents and almost all the topical medications are available in Pakistan. More a patient knows about this disease, less likely is he/ she to get depressed from psoriasis and more likelihood to get the correct treatment by avoiding quacks'.

'Prevalence of psoriasis is not alarmingly high. But there is need of raising public awareness for proper treatment to save patients from complications. Wrong treatment by doctors in some cases and by quacks in majority incidents is also a big issue. There is need of checking unwise use of Methotrexate (MTX), a chemotherapy agent for treating psoriasis', said Dr Abdul Rauf, leading dermatologist running clinic in densely populated Usman Gunj.

'Sometimes skin diseases become a social stigma. Patients often become reclusive and develop mental health problems. In some severe cases, patients even thought about suicide. There is need of raising public awareness about causes, symptoms of psoriasis and benefits of early treatment to avoid complications', said Dr Abdul Rauf.
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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 28, 2018
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