FAQs Psoriasis

The basics of the skin condition psoriasis and its impact on men's daily lives by Nyaka Mwanza.

Psoriasis and its effects on daily life are unique to each individual. The severity, presentation, treatment response, and progression of one person’s psoriasis may look very different from another’s.

In general, psoriasis can affect many aspects of daily life from your mood and self esteem to health routines and beyond. But each individual will have their own ways of living with their psoriasis depending upon how the condition affects them. 

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a complicated autoimmune condition commonly characterized by itchy, flaky patches (plaques) on the skin. Psoriasis is often confused with eczema, a skin condition with some similar symptoms. But there are distinct differences. Whereas eczema is often caused by allergies and may go away, psoriasis is a chronic and systemic autoimmune condition that can lead to symptoms beyond itching including fatigue and joint symptoms. (More on eczema and psoriasis.)

It is estimated that psoriasis affects between 2-3% of the UK population (or about 1.8 million people). Psoriasis tends to affect men and women at equal rates — but in different ways. Research has shown that men are more likely to experience more severe psoriasis and to require more care to manage their condition, for example.

What’s the impact of severe symptoms?

Severe psoriasis can sometimes result in debilitating discomfort and pain, depending on where the psoriasis is. The symptoms of psoriasis may also lead to limitations in activities of daily living. Severe psoriasis on the hands or feet, for example, can limit use and mobility. Psoriasis on the groin (genital psoriasis) or buttocks can make even sitting down or going to the toilet painful.

How does psoriasis affect physical health?

The systemic inflammation caused by psoriasis’s autoimmune response is linked to other health conditions (or comorbidities). People with psoriasis are at increased risk of physical health problems such as obesity and diabetes. People with psoriasis are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, and stroke, too.

Research is ongoing surrounding the role of inflammation in psoriasis, as well as how inflammation may be linked to cardiovascular disease, and whether a link exists between the severity of a person’s psoriasis and the likelihood of heart disease. Scientists suspect that inflammation is the link.

How can psoriasis affect mental wellbeing?

Psoriasis can cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression, or exacerbate existing ones. It’s commonly found that chronic diseases like psoriasis can cause emotional distress. Psoriasis can also disrupt interactions with other people and productivity at home and work because of discomfort or low confidence and self-esteem issues.

How does psoriasis affect the joints?

Psoriasis is linked to an increased probability of developing psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes inflammation in the joints in addition to skin problems. However, not everyone with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. If psoriasis begins to affect your joints, you may begin to have trouble with daily activities that require grasping, kneeling, and range of motion because of stiffness or pain.

Can psoriasis affect sex?

It isn’t fully understood why, but research suggests that sexual dysfunction occurs in over 40% of people living with psoriasis. The high rate of erectile dysfunction can’t be explained by genital psoriasis alone. Researchers suspect that several contributing factors — anxiety, embarrassment, heart-related inflammation, comorbid conditions and psoriasis medications — may be to blame.

How might psoriasis affect relationships?

Low confidence and self esteem related to psoriasis can have a huge impact on one’s social lives and relationships. Psoriasis treatments can also be time-consuming, eating up free time, and they can have unpleasant side effects. After some treatments, people with psoriasis may experience discomfort, embarrassment, itching, and pain.

Will psoriasis affect my work?

For the most part, people living with psoriasis can work and have careers much as people without psoriasis do. That said, the condition can result in skin sensitivity and pain. Some jobs, for instance those involving harsh chemicals or frequent exposure to common psoriasis triggers, may not be well suited for a person with psoriasis. Psoriasis can also cause severe discomfort and pain, which can limit a person’s abilities, and a person with psoriasis may need additional time off work for treatments.

If you have psoriasis, don’t let it stand in your way. Psoriasis need not stop you living a full and gratifying life. One man with debilitating psoriasis shared this reminder: 'I have psoriasis, it doesn’t define me. It’s a condition, it’s not who I am.'

Date published 07/05/21
Date of last review 07/05/21
Date of next review 07/05/24

References

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