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01-03-2012 | Article

Burden of psoriasis ‘not just physical’


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MedWire News: People with the skin disease psoriasis suffer not only the physical symptoms but also negative psychological and social consequences, research suggests.

The study also found that, for a given level of symptoms, women tend to suffer greater emotional distress than men.

Psoriasis is a condition that causes redness, scaling, and flaking of the skin, which can be both painful and unsightly. In some people, psoriasis also affects the bones and joints, causing pain and inflammation.

In the latest research, experts led by Dr Gerhard Schmid-Ott (Institute for Innovative Rehabilitation, Löhne, Germany) assessed 381 patients with psoriasis who had been admitted to hospital for treatment.

Each patient completed several questionnaires, allowing the researchers to get an in-depth picture of their symptoms and the emotional and social pressures they faced as a result of their disease.

The study found that patients with more severe symptoms had lower levels of general wellbeing and greater levels of discomfort and social stigmatization, as compared with patients with less severe symptoms.

Interestingly, even patients classified by their doctors as having "mild" symptoms reported suffering significant stigmatization and emotional distress.

Additionally, men and women seemed to react differently to psoriasis symptoms, with women being more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and less able to distance themselves emotionally from the social repercussions of psoriasis, as compared with men with symptoms of a similar severity.

"Apparently, men's symptoms are less discomforting and/or they underreport their discomfort levels, especially in recollection," note the authors.

The researchers conclude: "Women specifically bear a higher psychosocial burden, including lower mental health, because of psoriasis; special attention to women's psychological needs in diagnosis and treatment is appropriate as well."

The study is published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Joanna Lyford