August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, meant to shed light on the skin condition that is said to affect 125 million people worldwide. For many sufferers of Psoriasis, and other similar diseases like Eczema or Seborrhea, there is a social stigma associated with their condition that may make them reluctant to discuss it. But staying silent about these common skin disorders could lead to more serious, even life-threatening conditions according to New York based Dermatologist Dr. Doris Day.
While the visible symptoms are typically red, irritated skin due to the rapid turnover of skin cells, Dr. Day warns that this may be an indicator of much more.
“People with psoriasis may have a higher risk of lymphoma,” says Day, “Psoriasis is a pro-inflammatory condition, it could also affect the vessels and the heart and can lead to an increase risk of heart disease and heart attack.”
In addition to these severe risks, many sufferers also tend to see an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and arthritis as reported by the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Yet many sufferers of conditions like Psoriasis and Eczema also endure a heavy emotional toll. Nearly 70% of people with skin disorders say that their disease makes them feel self-conscious, embarrassed and helpless—feelings that can raise the risk of depression, obesity and alcoholism according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Dr. Doris Day says there is no known cause for Psoriasis, but that it can often be triggered by stress, injury to the skin or even smoking. Coincidentally these same triggers also cause flair-ups in those who suffer from eczema—a chronic inflammation of the skin.
“Eczema tends to be more of an allergy, a hypersensitivity of the skin,” said Dr. Day, “and typically kids outgrow it.”
Psoriasis, on the other hand, is thought to be related to the auto immune system. “You can get it at any age.” Says Dr. Day. “It affects men and women equally and all ethnicities.”
But for the millions of Americans who suffer from uncomfortable and embarrassing skin disorders, Dr. Doris Day has a message of hope.
“You’re not alone with this condition,” said Day, “It’s not contagious you can’t give it to anyone. It’s not progressive. If you have it from a young age, it doesn’t mean it’s going to get worse. I often clear and stay gone for many years.”
Dr. Doris Day stresses that with education and awareness the stigma of skin disorders, that are much more than skin deep, can be removed and sufferers can go on to live full, productive and healthy lives.