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New study finds even a ’small’ amount of psoriasis can negatively impact daily life


Study also confirms that psoriasis is widespread across US

A study released Saturday in a special issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (JID) finds that many adults with relatively small areas of psoriasis on their skin nevertheless report high levels of dissatisfaction with their current treatment, and also feel that psoriasis is a problem in their daily life. In all, an estimated 1.75 million adults in the United States say their psoriasis is a problem for them in everyday life, and more than 1 million are dissatisfied with their current treatment, even though only about 120,000 adults have what has traditionally been considered an extensive amount of psoriasis covering their skin.

"All too often we hear from psoriasis patients who have given up on treatment, and who have given up hope. Psoriasis has such a significant negative impact on lives – physically, socially and emotionally – and yet society often trivializes the disease," said Gail M. Zimmerman, president and CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation, which commissioned the survey upon which the paper was based. "This study is a powerful reminder that even those patients whose psoriasis is not considered ’severe’ by traditional measurements nevertheless deserve and need additional treatment options that will work for them."

The paper, written by a team led by Robert S. Stern, MD, a Member of the Psoriasis Foundation’s Medical Board and Professor of Dermatology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, also found that more than 2% of American adults--or more than 4.5 million people--have been diagnosed with psoriasis, a serious and often debilitating, lifelong skin disease that involves the immune system.

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans with relatively little psoriasis still consider their disease to be a burden in their lives, and almost as many are dissatisfied with their treatment," Dr. Stern said. "This suggests that we must look beyond the amount of surface area of a patient’s body covered with psoriasis to fully understand the impact the disease has on a person’s life."

In 2001, the Psoriasis Foundation commissioned two leading polling companies to conduct telephone surveys with more than 27,000 Americans age 18 or older in the contiguous 48 states. 2.2% of the respondents reported having been diagnosed with psoriasis by a physician. The survey results do not include the hundreds of thousands of children and teens under age 18 with the disease; adults who have psoriasis but have not been diagnosed by a physician; or those living in Alaska and Hawaii. Biogen Idec and Amgen/Wyeth provided the Psoriasis Foundation with an unrestricted educational grant to fund the survey, and the Psoriasis Foundation was solely responsible for developing the content.

"The exciting news that the millions of Americans struggling with psoriasis should draw hope from is that psoriasis is being studied as never before," said Ms. Zimmerman. "With some 40 drugs under development or in clinical trials, and the recent discovery of several genes implicated in psoriasis, the future for psoriasis patients looks brighter than it has ever been."

The Psoriasis Foundation web site, at, is the leading internet source for information on psoriasis treatments, reaching nearly 60,000 unique users per month. Patients can also email or call 800-723-9166 with their questions.

The Stern et al paper is called "Psoriasis is common, carries a substantial burden even when not extensive, and is associated with widespread treatment dissatisfaction."

About Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a lifelong skin disease that occurs when faulty signals in the immune system cause skin cells to regenerate too quickly--every three to four days instead of the usual 30-day cycle. Extra skin cells build up on the skin’s surface, forming red, flaky, scaly lesions that can itch, crack, bleed and be extremely painful. Psoriasis generally appears on the joints, limbs and scalp but it can appear anywhere on the body, covering some people from head to toe. More than 5 million Americans have psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints and connective tissues associated with psoriasis. Psoriasis typically first strikes people between the ages of 15 and 35, but can affect anyone at any age, including children.

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

The National Psoriasis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization fighting to improve the quality of life of the more than 5 million Americans with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis and their families. Its mission is to educate people about these diseases and their treatments, raise public awareness, and support ongoing research. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Ore. For more information, please call the Psoriasis Foundation at 800-723-9166 or visit

Michael Paranzino | EurekAlert!
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