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August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month!


What is Psoriasis?

             It’s an autoimmune condition of the skin that can cause a visible rash, itchiness, flaking, and pain. Though it’s relatively common, there are still plenty of myths out there about it. To right one of the most common myths: no, it is NOT contagious. It’s not an infectious process, it’s the body’s immune system attacking healthy skin cells, encouraging them to turn over faster than they can mature. This is unlike other types of rashes, which may be due to bacteria, viruses, or insect bites.


How does one get psoriasis?

             Usually there’s a large genetic component to it, so if you have a family member with psoriasis, or other autoimmune conditions, there’s a higher chance you could have psoriasis at some point in life. Like many autoimmune disorders, it is often triggered by certain stressors, such as trauma to the skin, psychological stress, lack of sleep, medications, or even allergic reactions to any number of environmental sources.


How is psoriasis treated?

             The rash is usually treated w/ topical medications that temper the overactive immune response, such as steroids or immune modulators. Since it’s a chronic condition that has intermittent acute flares, some can live rash-free, while others may always have some degree of rash all the time. The location and severity of the rash will vary for everyone, but the goal is to achieve a state of minimal rash, and prevent future flares by avoiding known triggers, protecting yourself from the sun, and maintaining your health. Because there’s a higher chance of having heart disease and diabetes in those who have psoriasis, it’s important to be tested for these conditions, and to take steps to prevent them and lower your risk. It makes having a healthy diet and keeping physically active even more important.


What to do if you think you have psoriasis:

             If you believe yourself or a loved one may be affected by psoriasis, it’s important to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. It’s not contagious, the rash is often temporary, and there are plenty of options out there to treat the flare ups. Often times, it can be diagnosed clinically, without the need for lab tests or biopsies, though in cases where it may not present as clearly, some testing may be required. A good first step would be to visit your PCP to help determine if this is the diagnosis that you may be living with, and devise a plan together to tackle it.


Burgaw Medical Center, PC

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