Psoriasis is a common condition, affecting up to 7.5 million Americans, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. It's also very poorly understood. People buy into all sorts of myths about psoriasis, including the notion that it's simply "dry skin." And by keeping people from getting appropriate treatment, these myths cause lots of needless suffering. Keep reading to learn the truth about six common myths about psoriasis...
Myth: Psoriasis is contagious
You can't catch psoriasis from someone else. The red, scaly patches are the result of a disorder of the immune system - not some germ that can be passed from person to person.
Myth: Psoriasis is just a cosmetic problem
Red, scaly patches are just the most visible symptom of psoriasis. The condition can also cause pain and intense itching, as well as skin infections. Some people with psoriasis develop a condition known as psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. And then there's the risk of skin cancer that comes from the light therapy sometimes used to treat psoriasis.
Myth: Psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene
Psoriasis isn't caused by a lack of cleanliness. The condition is thought to be passed down through families. It's believed to be caused by an autoimmune disorder that causes the skin cells to reproduce too rapidly. Certain things can trigger an outbreak of psoriasis or make the condition harder to treat. These include drug air, cuts, burns, insect bites, too little sunlight or too much, drinking alcohol, and psychological stress.
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Myth: Psoriasis is only a physical problem
The sometimes severe skin problems that come with psoriasis can cause intense emotional suffering, including feelings of anger and depression. Embarrassment over the skin's appearance can cause sufferers to avoid swimming, going to the gym, etc. Some psoriasis sufferers have suicidal thoughts.
Myth: Psoriasis is curable
Doctors consider psoriasis a chronic, lifelong condition. However, the disease can generally be controlled via a variety of treatments, including lotions, shampoos, pills or injection, and phototherapy - exposing the skin to light. Oatmeal baths can be soothing, as can relaxation and stress-relief measures.
Myth: Psoriasis is easy to diagnose
Many skin conditions produce symptoms similar to those produced by psoriasis, including the fungal infection ringworm and eczema. It's important to see a doctor who can do the necessary diagnostic tests.