Psoriasis: Causes, treatments and why you can learn to live with it

This skin disease isn’t contagious or dangerous. So, why is everyone afraid of it?

 A woman itches her back (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A woman itches her back
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Psoriasis is a very common disease, which can suddenly break out at any age. Dr. Hagit Metz from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv was hosted on a podcast by a specialist clinic and explained why most people diagnosed with psoriasis are certain that their world has been destroyed, and also how one can live in peace with this annoying disease.

Psoriasis is a disease that is complex to deal with. It's itchy and annoying, and often causes great embarrassment among those who suffer from it. Dr. Hagit Metz, director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Clinic at Ichilov Dermatology Clinic, was a guest on the "Expert Clinic" podcast to explain how to live with this chronic disease, how to treat it, and why people are so afraid of it.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease, which Metz says is very common (affects hundreds of thousands of Israelis) and can develop at any age.  It’s manifested by lesions throughout the body, most often in the elbows, scalp and knees, with coarse white scales. Metz stated that “it is a very bothersome disease.” 

She added that psoriasis can either “not itch at all or itch very much and interfere greatly with daily life."

Psoriasis is caused by a change in genes, meaning by a sudden disruption in the functioning of the immune system. “It doesn’t mean that your mom or dad had it,” Metz said.

However, "If one parent has psoriasis, it increases the risk by 15%. And if both parents have it, the chance of you developing it is almost 70%."

(Credit: Ingimage)(Credit: Ingimage)

Is there a way to cure psoriasis?

The treatment of psoriasis ranges from ointments, in mild cases, from phototherapy treatments to biological treatments. 

In this context, Metz explained that what helps patients who visit the Dead Sea is not the mud or the salt, but rather the sun and to enjoy the benefits of the unique rays of the Dead Sea, you have to stay there for two weeks.

Why do people react so hard to being diagnosed with psoriasis?

As mentioned, psoriasis can develop at any age, but it usually happens in the fourth or fifth decade of life. Metz said in the podcast that people react very badly to being diagnosed with this skin disease. 

"Skin disease is something that is very bothersome, and a lot of times people come to me to calm down,” she said. 

Metz added that dermatologists must understand that even though they see a lot of people with psoriasis, and may not be excited about it, people must understand that the source of psoriasis isn’t known, and that as you learn to understand the chronic nature of this disease, you start imagining all sorts of things. People open up Google and see the most horrible images."

However, it’s important to remember that most psoriasis patients suffer from only a mild illness. 

"There is a solution, most patients will not develop a terrible disease," she said. "You can live with psoriasis. It isn’t a contagious disease and we have a solution today for anyone who has psoriasis - mild to severe.”