OVER 100,000 PEOPLE in Ireland live with some form of the chronic autoimmune disorder psoriasis, which presents as scaly patches of silvery or red skin.
New research launched ahead of World Psoriasis Day – which will be marked on 29 October – shows that half (48 per cent) of the people surveyed say that their “fear of what others might think” affects them more than the physical challenge of psoriasis.
The international survey showed that women (61 per cent) were more likely than men (39 per cent) to avoid social situations because of their psoriasis and over half (56 per cent) of women, as opposed to only 43 per cent of men, said that their psoriasis has led to “reduced confidence over time”.
Three-quarters (75 per cent) of respondents said they avoid situations where their psoriasis will be on view.
Under the Spotlight
Under the Spotlight is an initiative which follows people with psoriasis over time. A series of video testimonies from patients in Ireland are online at underthespotlight.ie to highlight the impact of the condition and assist those affected.
One of those featured is Theresa Tierney-Bugler, (28) from Carrigaline, Co Cork, who works as a children’s psychiatric nurse. She has had psoriasis since she was 11 years old, and said she used to hide behind long sleeve tops “so that people wouldn’t stare or make negative comments”.
While psoriasis used to define me, it’s doesn’t anymore. I’ve come to realise that sometimes people with psoriasis are more self-conscious or aware of it than other people are of the condition. The key is to learn how to manage it properly with the right treatment and supports such as the Psoriasis Association of Ireland, and dress around it, so you feel comfortable in all social situations.
Caroline Irwin, chairperson of Psoriasis Association of Ireland said:
The research shows that a quarter (25 per cent) of people living with psoriasis feel that people “treat them differently because of their condition” and 20 per cent believe they “would have more friends” if they didn’t have the condition. To those people, I would say, you are not alone. If you are feeling self-conscious, or experiencing low self- esteem, rest assured that there are supports out there. Talk to someone, a GP, friend or family member, or contact us anytime for free advice and information.
Professor Brian Kirby, consultant dermatologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital, said that doctors are aware of the physical symptoms associated with psoriasis but patients may not be sharing the psychological consequences with them, and doctors should be aware of this.
Under the Spotlight is an initiative of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) and the Psoriasis Association of Ireland, and is supported by Abbott, the global health care company. The program runs in 13 countries. For more information, visit www.underthespotlight.ie. If you think you may have psoriasis, visit your GP to find out more.
A campaign was also recently launched by Claudia Carroll, who endorsed an educational booklet on scalp psoriasis which will be available in hairdressing salons across Ireland. For more, visit www.mypsoriasis.ie.