Country’s 262,000 psoriasis patients face stigma although not infectious

In the past year, some 5,700 infants, children and adults joined their ranks.

The Israel Psoriasis Association hold a march in Tel Aviv, December 22 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Psoriasis Association hold a march in Tel Aviv, December 22
(photo credit: Courtesy)
More than 262,000 Israelis suffer from the autoimmune skin disease psoriasis, and even though it is not infectious, many suffer from social ostracism and stigma as a result.
In the past year, some 5,700 infants, children and adults joined their ranks.
Yona Mantka Katzir, director of the Israel Psoriasis Association, said on Thursday that “about 3% of the world’s population suffer from the disease. Because of fear and shame, many do not seek support or medical assistance. I call on patients not to struggle alone with the disease.
Join us in the association and together we can be stronger, in the face of discrimination and bureaucracy.”
Psoriasis is a multi-system disease that has a deeper and more severe effect than just the external symptoms on the skin. Patients are also at increased risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes during their lifetime, according to studies. Some patients also suffer from psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness.
Psoriasis is a chronic, incurable disease manifested in red skin, lesions, itching and scaling on the body. It may occur at any age and has a genetic background. About a third of the patients have a family story of another patient, most of them siblings, parents, uncles or aunts. It was recently been recognized by the World Health Organization as a serious disease, which called for access to a range of advanced treatments.
There is no cure for the disease, but there are many drugs to relieve external and internal symptoms and improve the quality of life. There is no single treatment method that works for everyone – and what works for one patient may not affect another patient. A range of advanced medical and biologic treatments is available in the health basket provided by the health funds, and it is therefore recommended that every patient consult his or her dermatologist and try different types of treatments for the desired benefit.
It is not possible to get psoriasis by physical proximity to sufferers.
There is also no problem eating or drinking from dishes or coming into contact with sheets, towels, sofas or beds that they use. There is also no reason to fear hugging, kissing or having intimate contact with a psoriasis patient.
Most people coping with psoriasis spend time and money looking for quick treatment. Sometimes despair will motivate them to try anything new they have heard about. It is important to know that new ointments or oils that are often marketed via the social networks with promises of healing do not cure the disease.
A survey conducted in the past by the Israel Psoriasis Association found that 22% of the public think that psoriasis is a contagious disease.
Among young people aged 18 to 24, the situation is worse, as 30% of them think so. The survey was conducted by Market Watch with the participation of 500 Israelis.
The association is launching a three-week campaign on Sunday, to raise awareness and to mark World Psoriasis Day, which overseas is marked on the previous day, Shabbat. Patients should call its 24-hour hotline at (03) 624-7611 if they encounter discrimination in various frameworks or in dealings with the authorities. They can also visit the association’s website and Facebook page.