Psoriasis is a real disability that affects approximately one million Canadians. A recent Canadian survey found that the causes and effects of this chronic, recurrent skin disorder are often misunderstood - and the result of these mis-perceptions can leave a lasting negative impact on those who suffer from this debilitating immune system disease.
"People with psoriasis often feel that the general public doesn't understand their condition and worry that people are put off by their appearance," said Dr. Jensen Yeung, dermatologist and Medical Director of the Dermatology Department at Women's College Hospital, University of Toronto. "These feelings can severely impact a person's physical and emotional well-being - not to mention their social confidence."
PSORIASIS - BEYOND SKIN DEEP
More than half (58 per cent) of all survey respondents said they find people with skin conditions to be less attractive in general, and of those respondents who were aware of psoriasis (87 per cent), 44 per cent agree they wouldn't want to be served food in a restaurant by someone who had the condition. A further 20 per cent feel people with psoriasis should cover up their skin, and 56 per cent wrongly believe the condition can be cured.(3)
"These misunderstandings can perpetuate hurtful myths - for example, that psoriasis is contagious or that it's caused by poor hygiene," said Dr. Yeung. "Raising awareness about the true facts of psoriasis - and giving this disorder the proper attention it deserves - is extremely important."
The survey was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies on behalf of Amgen Canada and Wyeth Canada, now a part of Pfizer.
PSORIASIS - THE FACTS
Psoriasis is a lifelong chronic skin disorder that can strike at any age.(4) It is not contagious and researchers have found no link between psoriasis and personal hygiene.(5) There is currently no cure.
The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown, and symptoms range from mild, small patches to severe plaques covering a large percentage of the body. It can affect the head, body, arms, legs, elbows, knees, groin and genitals, palms and the bottoms of feet(6) and appears as red patches of skin, covered with dry, silvery scales.
Contrary to what some people believe, psoriasis is not just a skin disorder. In fact, people with psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing other chronic and serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes;(7) however, only 32 per cent of survey respondents realized this.
The condition can also have enormous physical and psychological effects on patients(8) and presents a substantial problem for them in their daily lives.(9) In fact, psoriasis can contribute to poor body image, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression,(10) with depression and thoughts of suicide reported in more than five per cent of psoriasis patients.(11) Some people with psoriasis attribute not working or lost work days to their psoriasis,(12) and patients report as much disability as cancer, diabetes and other major medical diseases.
Dermatologists can provide a definitive diagnosis of psoriasis, and the good news is that effective treatment options do exist. These include topical therapies, phototherapy, and systemic therapies taken by pill or injection. For moderate to severe forms of psoriasis, biological therapies that work on the body's immune system are also available and treat the symptoms differently than other medications.
CONNECTING CANADIANS WITH FACTS AND RESOURCES
Patients looking for information about psoriasis and/or treatment options should speak to their doctor and visit Psoriasis Connections (www.psoriasisconnections.ca) - a national disease education program that offers Canadians with moderate to severe psoriasis the opportunity to connect with the facts, the experts and other psoriasis suffers.
"I've found Psoriasis Connections to be an excellent resource for me and I believe it could be helpful to the general public too," says Allan Stordy who was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 29. "Not only does it provide overall information about psoriasis, but it offers important information about treatment options and how people with the condition can manage their day-to-day lives."
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The survey was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies on behalf of Amgen Canada and Wyeth Canada, now a part of Pfizer, to provide insight into Canadians' attitudes towards skin conditions and psoriasis.
It was conducted between October 6 and 7, 2009 among Canadians age 18 years and older. The total sample size for this study is 1,002, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1% 19 times out of 20.
ABOUT AMGEN CANADA INC.
Amgen Canada Inc. is the Canadian affiliate of Amgen Inc. Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing novel medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen is committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about Amgen's pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.ca.
ABOUT PFIZER CANADA INC.
Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc., the world's leading biopharmaceutical company. The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada. Our diversified health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products. Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships, to our belief that it takes more than medication to be truly healthy. To learn more about Pfizer's More than Medication philosophy and programs, visit morethanmedication.ca. To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit www.pfizer.ca.
Wyeth is now a part of Pfizer Inc. The merger of local Wyeth and Pfizer entities may be pending in various jurisdictions and is subject to completion of various local legal and regulatory obligations.
(1) Canadian Dermatology Association. Psoriasis. www.dermatology.ca/patients_public/info_patients/psoriasis/index.html. Last accessed October 14, 2009.
(2) The World Psoriasis Day survey was conducted from October 6 to October 7, 2009 by Angus Reid Strategies through an online survey among a randomly selected, representative sample of 1,002 adult Canadians over the age of 18. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.1 %, 19 times out of 20.
(5) Dispelling psoriasis myths. www.qualityhealth.com/skin-care-beauty-articles/dispelling-psoriasis-myths. Last accessed October 14, 2009.
(6) National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis. Forms of Psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis. www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/learn_types. Last accessed October 14, 2009.
(7) Kimball, Alexa B. et al. National Psoriasis Foundation clinical consensus on psoriasis comorbidities and recommendations for screening. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Jun;58(6):1031-42.
(8) Russo, PA, et al. Psychiatric Morbidity in Psoriasis: A Review. Australas J Dermatol. 2004 Aug;45(3): 155-9.
(9) Lynde C. et al. The Burden of Psoriasis in Canada: Insights from the pSoriasis Knowledge IN Canada (SKIN) Survey.J Cutan Med Surg. 2009 Sep-Oct;13(5):235-52.
(10) Russo, PA, et al. Psychiatric Morbidity in Psoriasis: A Review. Australas J Dermatol. 2004 Aug;45(3): 155-9.
(11) Langley R. G. B., et al. Psoriasis: epidemiology, clinical features, and quality of life. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2005; 64:ii18-ii23.
(12) Finlay, AY and EC Coles. The effects of severe psoriasis on the quality of life of 369 patients. Br J Dermatol 1995;132:236-44.
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