Debunking The Psoriasis Perception

Various misconceptions come with every disease due to the lack of proper education. The same is true of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease which affects more than eight million individuals in America. Since most people do not have in-depth knowledge about the disease, they react by its physical outlook which is why they avoid those affected with the disease.

To find out more about how deep the stigma of psoriasis is, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania conducted multidisciplinary research using the medical students and the general population of America as determinants.

Aside from the stigma associated with the disease, there are also some misconceptions about the disease. There is the belief that psoriasis is a contagious illness which is also not serious. To better educate ourselves and drop all misconceptions, let’s see what the researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine had to say about psoriasis.

Reducing Negative Perceptions

“Although it’s widely recognized that the appearance of psoriasis can negatively impact patients’ social, professional, and intimate relationships, we want to quantify the perceptions patients with psoriasis face on a daily basis in order to understand how pervasive they are,” says senior author of the study, Joel M. Gelfand, MD MSCE, who is a professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology.

The lead author, Rebecca L. Pearl, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry went on to say, “It’s possible that better education about the disease, as well as contact with individuals with psoriasis, may help to dispel myths and stereotypes and reduce negative perceptions.”

The study researchers performed a survey with a web-based data collection service known as the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) where they showed pictures of people with psoriasis. They used the survey to determine people’s perception of the condition. They also sent emails of the survey to the medical students. The survey was completed by 198 people of the general population and 187 medical students.

The survey had the following results for the general population: 54 percent didn’t want a romantic relationship with someone infected with psoriasis; 32 percent did not want to live with someone that has the disease; 39 percent would be reluctant to shake hands with a psoriasis-infected person; and 27 percent believed the disease was contagious. They also believed that people with psoriasis were generally insecure, sick, and unattractive. The medical students were more knowledgeable about the disease, and so did less stigmatizing.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which affects the skin leaving thick, red patches that are painful and can cause itching and bleeding. It can affect any part of the body especially the face, scalp, back, knees, elbows, and feet. The first symptom of psoriasis will normally show up from the ages of 15 to 30 years, but some people could get their first symptom at a much later age.

It is a serious illness which can cause stroke, heart attack, and death. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not contagious. There is promising research on its treatments, but currently there is no cure for the disease.

About The Author

Lisa S. Jones is a certified nurse, nutritionist, fitness coach and health expert. Her training credentials include  a B.Sc. in Nursing from California State University in 2013 and Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates in 2015. In 2017, she also received Holistic Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates.

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