Ahead of World Psoriasis Day, which will be marked on October 29 this year, DHA experts discussed the importance of awareness and early treatment for psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic non-contagious skin disease that presents itself in the form red patches covered by white scales all over the affected area.
Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, Director of Dermatology at the DHA, said: “Globally a significant number of patients have limited knowledge of the condition. The lack of knowledge often leads to delayed treatment and misconceptions about the disease. Several patients often ask us if it is contagious and we inform them that it is not contagious, moreover, the disease rarely causes any secondary infections and therefore patients can lead their life normally and continue doing all their regular activities including swimming.
Through our efforts in the UAE, we are trying to dispel all the myths and misconceptions associated with the disease and our aim is to encourage patients to come forward and seek treatment early on. Patients also need to understand that although there is no cure for the disease, it can be managed effectively through treatment and a healthy lifestyle. Advances in treatment of psoriasis is ongoing and this means better patient outcomes in the future, which is promising for both dermatologists and patients.”
Al Hammadi said presently treatment options include tropical crèmes, oral pills, phototherapy ( light therapy) and for severe cases biological injections.
Al Hammadi added that currently the latest form of treatment which is newly introduced and being studied is biological pills instead of injections.
He said research shows the psychological impact of psoriasis is more than cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes etc. “The appearance of the disease and unawareness among society members about the disease causes most patients psychological stress. At our centre, we have seen patients which psoriasis on the nails, hands or scalp, many of them informed us that they needed to change their customer facing jobs due to the appearance of the disease. This of course, presents a toll of them emotionally, financially and psychologically and thus awareness about the disease among the community will help in better acceptance and understanding of the disease.”
Al Hammadi said that in 2013 the DHA dermatology centre received 14,634 patients, of which 1117 patients had psoriasis and in 2014, out of 14,634 patients, 1216 had the disease.
Dr Fatima Khalifa Al Hadari, Senior Dermatologist at the DHA, said: “It generally develops on the scalp, knees, or elbows, although it may affect any area of the skin. The production of skin cells at affected sites is accelerated, and the accumulation of excess cells causes scaly plaques. If both parents are affected with psoriasis, the risk of their children developing it is 41 per cent, if one of the parent has it, the risk is 14 per cent. If one of the sibling is affected with psoriasis, the risk of other siblings developing it is 6 %. Up to 30 per cent of patients with psoriasis, may develop psoriatic arthritis, especially if their nails are affected. that Latest research shows that psoriasis is a systematic disease which means that patients with the disease are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes etc. and therefore the message to both dermatologists and patients is early referral to specialised consultants as well as regular screening.
She also added that improving lifestyle is important which means cutting down on alcohol, smoking cessation, healthy eating and exercise.