The whole-body effect of psoriatic disease

| Emily Delzell

Sarah Truman hoped to learn more about how to live healthfully by attending a More Than Skin Deep event in 2012. But she got even more out of it than that.

She brought her family along and the information helped her loved ones better understand the challenges Truman faces because of her psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

And that's not all.

"I meet other patients, exchange stories, and learn what's working for them. I hear doctor's opinions and ask them questions," said Truman, who continues to attend the event annual in Portland, Oregon. "It's a free exchange of ideas and stimulates thoughts through open dialogue."

More Than Skin Deep has increased Truman's awareness of "the whole-body effect of psoriasis," and she's made a number of positive lifestyle changes since, including maintaining a healthy diet (she limits sugar and has tried a gluten-free diet) and quitting smoking.

Helping people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis understand how their disease affects their whole body is the focus of NPF's free More Than Skin Deep education series. Participants will learn more about health conditions related to psoriatic disease, also called comorbidities, and how to reduce their risk of developing these conditions.

More Than Skin Deep

"Psoriasis is more than just a skin disease, it's a major health issue that affects many body systems," said Dr. Andy Blauvelt, a dermatologist and president of the Oregon Medical Research Center in Portland who will be presenting at the June 21 More Than Skin Deep event in Portland.

People with risk factors for conditions related to psoriatic disease, which include heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes, should work with their primary care physicians to reach a healthy weight, stop smoking and control high blood pressure, cholesterol and other metabolic problems, said Blauvelt. He noted that appropriate treatment for psoriatic conditions also lowers risk for many comorbidities, including heart disease and stroke, by reducing inflammation throughout the body.

Appropriate treatment means matching the level of treatment to the severity of psoriatic symptoms, Blauvelt said. "Undertreatment — for example, treating moderate to severe psoriasis with topical steroids — is a common practice," he said. "In my opinion, it's a bad practice to treat such an important disease that has such an impact in terms of systemic inflammation with a topical steroid. I tell every patient my goal for them is clear skin without side effects."

Emotional impacts, too

People with psoriatic disease also are at greater risk for depression, anxiety and social isolation, said Dr. Julie Nelligan, a Portland psychologist.

"Events like [More Than Skin Deep] give people a way to hear the information they need and possibly take away things they can do differently," she said.

Connecting with others with the same condition also helps, she said. "They understand your condition, and you don't feel so by yourself. That alone helps reduces stress because people feel supported and understood."

Find the nearest More Than Skin Deep event and register now.


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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