Each August, the National Psoriasis Foundation
(NPF) sponsors Psoriasis Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness,
educating the public and dispelling myths about the disease.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, noncontagious,
genetic autoimmune disease that appears on the skin in red, scaly patches that
itch, crack and bleed. It is the most common autoimmune disease in the country,
affecting approximately 7.5 million Americans.
Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop
psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory type of arthritis that causes pain and
swelling of the joints and tendons. People with mild psoriasis are just as
likely to develop psoriatic arthritis as those with moderate to severe
What causes psoriasis?
Genetics and the immune system play a major
role in the disease. In people with psoriasis, the immune system sends out
faulty signals that speed up the growth of skin cells.
To develop psoriasis, a person must have a
combination of the genes that cause psoriasis and be exposed to external
“triggers.” Triggers include stress; injury to the skin, such as a tattoo or a
scrape; smoking; and certain infections.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but many
treatment options are available. Treatment is individualized for each person
and depends on the severity of the disease, the type of psoriasis and how the
person reacts to certain treatments.
Psoriasis takes an emotional, physical toll
Despite its prevalence, psoriasis is widely
misunderstood. People with psoriasis often face discrimination because others
incorrectly fear it is contagious. Studies show that people with psoriasis
report higher levels of anxiety, embarrassment and depression. In a National
Psoriasis Foundation study, more than half the respondents said psoriasis
impacts with their ability to enjoy life.
In addition to the psychological and social
impact of psoriasis, psoriasis increases risk for other serious health
conditions. These include heart diseases, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes,
Crohn’s disease, hypertension, obesity and depression.
National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board
urges people with psoriasis to work with their doctors to watch for the
potential onset of any health issues related to psoriasis.
Learn more about psoriasis, its associated health risks,
treatment options and ways to effectively manage the disease at
Research to find a cure
National Psoriasis Foundation has grown to be
the world’s largest nonprofit patient advocacy organization serving people with
psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and the largest charitable funder of
psoriatic disease research worldwide. Finding a cure for psoriatic diseases is
the Foundation’s highest priority. In 2012, the Psoriasis Foundation awarded
more than $2 million in research grants and medical research fellowships to
scientists studying psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis—the most dollars and
grants in the organization’s history.
Learn more about the NPF and its investment in
cutting-edge research at www.psoriasis.org/research.