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Helping Seniors Manage Psoriasis

Facts about Psoriasis:

Psoriasis is a common autoimmune disease.  It is more than just a basic skin condition and affects an estimated 7.5 million Americans (National Psoriasis Foundation).  Psoriasis a chronic disease, meaning it can increase or decrease in intensity, and is not curable at this time.  Main issues of psoriasis are inflammation of the skin and thickened, scaling skin.  There are several types of psoriasis.


Symptoms are often visible or tangible.  Common symptoms can include:

  • Dandruff
  • Itching (sometimes severe)
  • Fungus around the nails
  • Red or pink bumps on the skin
  • Scaly or raised up skin

Quality of Life:

Both the inflammation and the itchiness can lower the quality of life for those suffering from psoriasis.  The appearance of psoriasis plaques on the skin can affect self-esteem and self-image leading to depression.  Due to the disease causing unpredictable flare-ups, it can affect a person’s ability to work as well as cause anxiety and frustration.

Treatment and management:

There is, at this time, no cure for psoriasis.  Several types of medications can help with inflammation, itchiness, and flare-ups of the disease.  Doctors can also help psoriasis sufferers take steps to avoid exacerbating the condition (MedicineNet).  Lifestyle choices can often keep psoriasis flares in check.  Check with your doctor before implementing any lifestyle choice.  Some of these changes are:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Take fish oil
  • Ask about medication during flare-ups
  • Don’t drink or smoke
  • Protect joints through exercise
  • See a doctor if your nails change
  • Limit stress and practice self care (Allsup)

Stay Positive:

The symptoms of psoriasis can feel maddening.  Stress is known to exacerbate the symptoms, so helping seniors stay positive by focusing on everything they can still do despite this disease and reminding them that flare-ups do end is important.  Caregivers should pay close attention to medication intake.  It is common for people to discontinue use of psoriasis meds when their conditions improves.  However, medications should be continued until a doctor approves a change.

Myths vs facts:

  1. MYTH – psoriasis is just a rash.
    1. FACT – Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition of the skin and can contribute to inflammation under the skin, such as in the joints.
  2. MYTH – psoriasis will go away on its own.
    1. FACT – The disease is chronic and there is no cure.  Condition can get better for a time, but can also worsen and varies often.
  3. MYTH – psoriasis is not treatable.
    1. FACT – Psoriasis is treatable with medication and lifestyle options that can minimize the disease and its effects.
  4. MYTH – psoriasis is contagious.
    1. FACT – Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition and is not contagious. (Consumer Health Digest)


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