“There is a whole group of people who do not seek treatment, or who resort to treatments that are ineffective, because they don’t trust the specialists. But to get the best treatment for their own particular symptoms, it is important that people consult a dermatologist at a specialist referral centre.” Dermatologist at the Policlinico of Modena University Hospital Trust, Andrea Conti’s words are a heartfelt appeal to those with psoriasis.
Scientific advances mean that doctors are able to respond even to the most complex needs of patients, bringing new hope and encouragement to those suffering from the disease. “It’s true that there were very few means of treating psoriasis until not so long ago, and those that were available were often complex to use. Now, however, there are a number of new treatments available, so it’s crucial that patients understand the disease, that they do not shut themselves away, and that they talk about the illness with a specialist, helping both us and them to combat the outdated stigma surrounding the disease. It’s also vital to remember that psoriasis can be associated with other diseases, such as metabolic, cardiovascular and articular disorders, making it a complex illness which requires treatment and should not be underestimated. Ideally, treatment should consist of a multidisciplinary approach, with a care team headed by a dermatologist, which aims to offer the right solutions for each individual patient.”
Technically, psoriasis is defined as a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease. And it is on the word “chronic” that we need to focus our attention. Although the disease can go into almost complete remission, even for months at a time, there is always the risk of the lesions reappearing. Today we know that there are a number of disease triggers that should not be underestimated, which lead to the disease in its various forms, and which differ in terms of severity and involvement of other body systems besides the skin. Genetic predisposition is certainly a major factor, but it is important not to underestimate the environmental factors and the activity of the body’s immune system, which contributes to the lesions.
The important is knowing the disease and trying not to hide it.
Psoriasis often leads to discomfort, embarrassment and frustration, which all impact negatively on the patient’s sense of self-esteem; the patient’s general health and quality of life are correlated to the severity of the illness and its symptoms, and it is crucial that patients understand the disease and do not hide themselves away. Plaques that appear in very visible areas of the body, such as the face, scalp and nails, can lead to deep feelings of shame and embarrassment, with a significant impact on day-to-day life and personal relationships. Patches in less visible areas of the body may lessen these feelings of shame, however the disease is just as problematic due to the pain and itching it causes.
“At the end of the day, it is important that the specialist defines the severity of the clinical picture, along with the most important strategies to treat the disease”, Conti concludes. “New treatment approaches are now available, using innovative drugs which can send the disease into stable remission for long periods. But most of all, we have safe and effective treatment solutions which are able to improve and even prevent the onset of other conditions – arthritis first and foremost – which can be associated with psoriasis.”
Article by Federico Mereta, published in “Il Resto del Carlino” on 27 May 2018