Psoriasis is a relatively common, inflammatory, and hypercellular long-term skin condition. It affects nearly 1.4 to 2.0% of the population. In psoriasis, a person experiences itchy and bright red scaly lesions, which are quite problematic to the bearer. Some people with visible psoriasis patches feel embarrassed about their appearance and face numerous stigmas.
People’s attitudes against patients with psoriasis are negative. Their nature of maintaining distance shows rejection against psoriatic patients. Patients with psoriasis cope with this discrimination, pessimistic attitudes, and stigmatization from society.
The stigmatization and disability feeling is higher in psoriasis patients. To reduce destigmatization and improve the acceptance of psoriasis patients in society, we have to raise awareness of psoriasis that it is a non-transmissible disease. Therefore, let’s understand more about what psoriasis is.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin disease in which skin cells start multiplying and form itchy, dry, and demarcated patches or scales. These lesions are most commonly present on the scalp, neck, knees, elbows, feet, and trunk. Generally, redness and inflammation are present around these scaly lesions. According to the lesion’s appearance, psoriasis is of five types:
- Plaque psoriasis: It is the most common type of psoriasis. This condition causes red, inflamed patches, which are often covered with whitish-silver scales and are of purple or dark brown or grayish colored patches.
- Pustular psoriasis: This condition is more common in adults. The lesions in Pustular psoriasis are white, pus-filled blisters and vary in color from red to violet.
- Inverse psoriasis: Patches in inverse psoriasis are red and shiny with inflammation of the surrounding area. Inverse psoriasis patches usually appear under armpits, breasts, and the groin area.
- Guttate psoriasis: The small pink or violet spots in this type commonly affect children.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: It is a severe and rare type of psoriasis. The Erythrodermic psoriasis’s lesions cover a larger area of body parts and appear as sunburned sheets.
Psoriasis is not only a skin disease, but it also affects other organs, such as the cardiovascular system and joints. Patients with psoriasis are prone to develop numerous psychological disorders, such as stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar mood disorder, and cognitive impairment.
What is psoriasis stigmatization?
Stigmatization is the action of one or group of people exhibiting to someone or something as unworthy or regarded as a disgrace. The most common cause of the development of psoriasis stigmatization is due to people’s biased belief about the disease, as some of them think that they can also catch psoriasis by simply touching or coming close to someone who has it. According to the 6-item stigmatization scale, the patient perceives stigmatization with the following six things:
- The scales and patches do not look attractive.
- People avoid touching like shaking hands or hugging the patients
- Other people often keep staring at the skin lesions
- People avoid the person with psoriasis, thinking this skin disease is contagious
- People sometimes give disturbing remarks about the skin condition
How does stigmatization affect psoriasis patients?
Patients with psoriasis or other skin conditions often face social stigmatization, which can affect their emotional and psychological health and cause depression, stress, mood disorders, social distancing, and ultimately distancing from people. Social stigmatization can also cause complete social exclusion. Sometimes, the corporates also hesitate to hire psoriasis patients, which further impacts their psychological health and can lead to self-stigmatization that affects their quality of life. Lack of awareness of psoriasis among people can develop numerous stigmatizations, from other people staring to being asked to leave public places.
How can we destigmatize psoriasis?
According to numerous statics, stigmatization with psoriasis is much higher than in other skin diseases, as the lesions of this condition are difficult to conceal and are chronic. The following steps can help to overcome the psoriasis stigmatization:
- Education about the disease: Understand the course and reason for psoriasis. Educate your loved one, friends, co-workers, and potential partner that psoriasis is not a contagious disease and doesn’t spread through touch or any other way.
- Awareness through nonprofit government groups: The government and other charitable groups can educate people about psoriasis and how to avoid giving people with psoriasis a negative attitude. Patients with psoriasis are just like us, except having an autoimmune disease. Therefore, don’t look down on them.
- Support groups: According to numerous studies, people with psoriasis who attend support groups have improved quality of life, lower depression, and higher acceptance of the disease. Support groups also allow you to contact people with a similar condition.
- Talk it: Despite physical symptoms, psoriasis impacts emotional and mental health. Talk to your friends, family members, or professionals about your suffering and low self-esteem. Talking can boost self-confidence and improve quality of life.
The social stigma associated with psoriasis had devastating effects on both physical and mental health. We can’t change people’s negative attitudes overnight, but destigmatizing can encourage people to fight ignorance toward psoriasis.