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HMC dispels psoriasis misconceptions

Storyline:Science & Tech

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) marks Psoriasis Awareness Month through raising awareness of psoriasis as part of its community outreach activities.

Through creating increased awareness about the autoimmune disease the healthcare organisation is hoping to help dispel common misconceptions.

Psoriasis is a chronic, genetic autoimmune disease that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis changes the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to rapidly build up on the surface of the skin. It typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp but can affect the torso, palms and soles of the feet or any other part of the skin.

Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States affecting up to 7.5 million Americans. In Qatar, psoriasis affects approximately three percent of the country’s population. Men and women develop psoriasis at equal rates. The condition is often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age.

According to Dr Ahmad Hazem Takiddin, Dermatology and Venereology Consultant at HMC, there are a number of common misconceptions about psoriasis, ranging from the condition being contagious to occurring due to poor hygiene.

“Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which affects the skin. The patches (plaques) can crack and bleed and this causes some people to think the condition is contagious. This is not true. Genetics and the immune system of a person play a vital role in the development of the disease. In those with psoriasis, the immune system sends abnormal signals that significantly accelerate the growth process of skin cells,” explained Dr Takiddin.

He emphasised that psoriasis is not caused or worsened by poor personal hygiene. “People with the disease have a genetic tendency to develop it. There are certain things that can trigger flare-ups, including skin injury, stress, hormonal changes, infections and some medications. Most people with the disease experience cycles of clear skin and outbreaks,” he noted.

Dr Takiddin added that many people with psoriasis don’t know they have it because its symptoms are similar to skin rashes, making psoriasis difficult to diagnose. “Skin rashes are common so before making a psoriasis diagnosis doctors must rule out a list of other possible causes like food and medication allergies and viruses. Careful visual inspection is normally sufficient to diagnose psoriasis but sometimes a skin biopsy is required,” he said.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are different treatments available to minimize the symptoms and control the disease. “Treatment is individualized from one person to another. Treatment options for psoriasis include creams and ointments applied to the skin, phototherapy (controlled exposure to certain types of ultraviolet light), and medication that reduces the production of skin cells,” he highlighted.

Anyone concerned that they have developed psoriasis should make an appointment to see a primary care physician. In many cases, they will be able to prescribe effective treatment.

The Peninsula