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25-10-2012 | General practice | Article

NICE: psoriasis ‘more than skin deep’

Abstract

Full guidance

medwireNews: GPs must remember to assess the impact that psoriasis has on patients' physical and psychosocial wellbeing, NICE urges in new guidance out this week.

Over a third of people with psoriasis report clinically significant anxiety and depression, and the condition often prevents sufferers participating in social and physical activities, including work and study. Yet according to NICE, these aspects can be overlooked by GPs and other healthcare professionals.

Dr Catherine Smith, a consultant dermatologist who chaired the development of the NICE guideline, explained in a press statement that "it is vital" to recognise these possible consequences when first assessing the patient.

"Early and proactive identification will allow patients to receive the support and effective treatment they need in a timely manner," she said.

Another key recommendation is for patients to be systematically assessed on a yearly basis for psoriatic arthritis - particularly during the first 10 years after psoriasis is diagnosed, as this is when it is most likely to develop.

Dr Natasha Smeaton, a GP who helped develop the NICE guideline, said: "Psoriatic arthritis is rarely seen by GPs and so there may be confusion regarding how it should be diagnosed when compared to other joint problems, such as 'wear-and-tear' arthritis and gout. Early diagnosis is important because the condition is aggressive and associated with progressive joint damage. There are effective treatments available and so patients should receive these as soon as possible."

GPs should use a validated tool in these assessments, such as the Psoriasis Epidemiological Screening Tool, Dr Smeaton advised.

"This will facilitate more timely referrals to rheumatologists so that patients can receive the treatments they need."

medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price