Current studies show that there are 125 million psoriasis sufferers all over the world. In America alone, 8 million people have it and 10 to 30 percent of them also develop psoriatic arthritis.
In the Philippines, there are more than 2 millions psoriasis patients but many of them do not get appropriate treatment.
Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatment
American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) describes psoriasis as a condition that causes the body to make new skin cells in days rather than weeks. Skin cells rapidly build up on the skin surface, and the extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. The most common type is plaque psoriasis that appears on elbows, knees, skin folds, and scalp.
No specific cure has been discovered yet for psoriasis but topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, topical retinoids, light therapy (phototherapy), oral or injected medications are given by licensed dermatologists for treatments.
Psoriasis as social stigma
The appearance of red, scaly patches on the skin tend to make people shy away from persons with psoriasis. Psoriasis sufferers experience discrimination so they withdraw and isolate themselves from the rest of society.
This kind of environment made the National Psoriasis Foundation create the first “National Psoriasis Awareness Month,” in October 1997 to raise the “first full-scale national public awareness campaign” with messages about psoriasis and NPF in newspapers and on radio and TV.
Josef de Guzman, Psoriasis Philippines President, has psoriasis for more than a decade now. His situation led him to form an online support group for patients. In his interview with BusinessWorld, he told patients not to lose hope and to keep moving.
Facebook group, PsorPhil, was also created so that patients can interact, post question and share their experiences about their condition.
World Psoriasis Day
The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) has made October 29 as World Psoriasis Day. It is celebrated annually and dedicated to people with psoriasis.
On World Psoriasis Day, member associations and their supporters organize activities around the world to raise awareness of psoriasis. The theme for 2019 is Let’s get CONNECTED.
Support groups and programs
Psoriasis Philippines and Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS) launched the Hug Me Campaign and Psoriasis Caravan: A Journey of Hope which made people aware that psoriasis sufferers need understanding and support.
PDS also has accredited dermatology training programs around the country where patients with psoriasis can undergo free evidence-based medical treatment. Community-based psoriasis clubs with PDS dermatologists as advisers have also been put up to help the patients.
The organization is also working on a bill that will be submitted to Congress, and will “put forth the benefits that are necessary for psoriasis patients.”
PsorPhil has over 20 chapters across the country and one of them is the Quezon City Chapter “Quezon City Flairs.” Their leaders and members hold monthly meetings to socialize and be kept updated on the latest PsorPhil events and developments.
This kind of awareness and initiative has made every person suffering from psoriasis feel that they’re not alone.