Women with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are markedly more likely than men to suffer from the emotional and psychological effects of the diseases, according to survey data released by the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Psoriasis is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Appearing on the skin most often as red scaly patches that itch and bleed, psoriasis is chronic, painful, disfiguring and disabling. Additionally, up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a related joint disease. There is no cure for psoriasis.
The National Psoriasis Foundation study, one of the largest effort to-date to gather information on the psychological, emotional and social effects of the diseases, details its extensive impact on patients' participation in the workforce as well as their emotional and social well-being, particularly for women.
"Psoriasis appears to have a greater impact on women's lives across all the psycho-social measures used in this survey," said Mark Lebwohl, MD, professor and chairman of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board. "This level of emotional distress has implications for the progression and treatment of the diseases themselves, as stress can be a trigger for flares of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in many patients."
Twenty percent of women said psoriasis is a very large problem in their everyday lives, compared with just 12% of men. Two-thirds of women (67%) said that psoriasis affects their overall emotional well-being, compared with 57% of men. And women were 12% more likely than men to say psoriasis interferes with their capacity to enjoy life (59% versus 52%).
Women were also more likely than men to experience anger, frustration, embarrassment and helplessness with regards to their psoriasis. In addition, they reported more day-to-day physical discomfort than men, including itching, irritation and pain from psoriasis.
Women were particularly sensitive to the effect of psoriasis on their appearance. More than half (57%) of women said their psoriasis is disfiguring, compared with 48% of men, and nearly half (48%) of the women surveyed said they alter their clothing choices to conceal psoriasis, compared to a third (32%) of men.
"Studies like ours show that psoriasis is a complicated and serious disease, which affects people not just physically, but emotionally as well," said Randy Beranek, president and CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation. "As there is still so much that we need to learn about the causes of psoriasis and its impact on our society, it is the top priority of this organization to dramatically increase the amount and quality of psoriasis research conducted in the U.S."
The data in the survey were gathered by the National Psoriasis in 11 rounds of telephone and Internet surveys over six years. Nearly 5,000 people with psoriasis participated, making this the largest study of its kind conducted with the psoriasis population.
The National Psoriasis Foundation encourages people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to seek treatment for their disease, and to access information about education and support services including interactive online resources and local support groups, at www.psoriasis.org.
To read the full report, go to http://www.psoriasis.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=668.
About the National Psoriasis Foundation
The National Psoriasis Foundation is one of the world's largest nonprofit patient advocacy organizations, and the voice for millions of Americans who are affected by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Its mission is to find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and to eliminate their devastating effects through research, advocacy and education. For more information, visit the Psoriasis Foundation, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, at www.psoriasis.org.