Living with Psoriasis
Living with Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be controlled
with the right treatment, a
commitment to living well, and
a strong support network.
What is psoriasis, anyway?
After completing this step, you should be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do I know what psoriasis is?
- Do I know how psoriasis is diagnosed?
- Do I know about the different types of psoriasis?
- Would I benefit from discussing my symptoms with my doctor?
- Am I prepared to talk to my doctor about my symptoms?
Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune condition. This means that the body’s immune system (the system that fights diseases) isn’t responding as it should to healthy body tissue. In a person with psoriasis, the skin cells multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. With so many cells reaching the skin’s surface and dying so quickly, red patches (called “plaques”) develop on the skin. These plaques are often covered with silvery-white flakes called scales.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be controlled with the right treatment and a better understanding of how you can live well with psoriasis.
You are not alone.
Psoriasis affects about 1 million people across Canada
Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp. It can also affect the torso (the “trunk” of the body), palms, and soles of the feet, as well as your fingers and toenails.
Types of Psoriasis &
What does it look like?
Raised, red patches with a flaky silvery-white build-up.
Smooth, dry areas of skin that are red and inflamed (but do not have the scaling associated with plaque psoriasis).
Bright red skin across large areas, sometimes with swelling.
Raised, red patches on the scalp with a flaky, silvery white build-up.
See all the different types of psoriasis.
Would I benefit from talking to my doctor about my symptoms?
Only your doctor can diagnose psoriasis; however, it’s helpful to learn all you can about your condition to help make diagnosis and treatment easier.
In Step 2, we focus on putting together a plan to help you care for your psoriasis. This involves working together with your doctor or nurse to come up with a strategy to help minimize flares and the impact psoriasis has on your life. No two people experience psoriasis the same way. Some people with “mild” psoriasis might actually be severely impacted by their condition; for others, this may not be the case. Individual goals and management plans are essential to help ensure you get the treatment satisfaction you are looking for. After completing this step, you should be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do I understand why putting together a plan to care for my psoriasis is important?
- Do I understand why it is important for me to be on top of my treatment?
- Do I have the support I need to put together a plan to care for my psoriasis?
- Do I know where to go for additional support?
Putting together a plan
It is important to be proactive when it comes to managing your psoriasis. This means thinking and planning ahead and doing what you can to help avoid flares – and managing them as best you can when they do occur. Creating a plan for managing psoriasis should include setting specific treatment goals and putting together a roadmap for how you are going to achieve them. This will also help determine which type of treatment to choose.
Your goals may include:
- Wearing a bathing suit and swimming in public
- Getting your hair done at a professional salon
- Feeling comfortable accepting change from a cashier
- Not worrying so much about what to wear to hide your psoriasis
What are your treatment goals?
Remember, your psoriasis may change over time. You may need to modify your goals to ensure your management plan works with the goals you’ve set for yourself.
It is important to keep track of your goals to see how far you have come and what you had to do to get there. Consider keeping a diary and sharing it with your doctor. He or she may have suggestions to help you get more out of therapy.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHAT TREATMENT MIGHT BE RIGHT FOR YOU, MOVE ON TO STEP 3 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHOOSING THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR YOU.
In Step 3, we will examine how to choose a treatment that will help you get to where you want to be with your psoriasis. After reviewing the information, you should be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do I know what my treatment options are?
- Do I know how the severity of my psoriasis can affect my treatment options?
- Do I know how to discuss my treatment options with a dermatologist?
- Do I understand how a dermatologist can help me manage my psoriasis?
Choosing a Treatment
There are many treatment options available for psoriasis. Choosing a treatment that works for you will depend on the type and severity of your psoriasis, your lifestyle, and your treatment goals.
Treatments can include Topicals, Orals, Ultraviolet Light Therapy or Targeted Therapies such as Biologics.To review all psoriasis treatment options in detail, go to Overview of Your Treatment Options.
An important first step in finding the right treatment for your psoriasis is to determine its severity. Take the Psoriasis Severity Quiz and discuss these results with your doctor. Your doctor is the only one who will be able to determine which option might work best for you.
The Role of a Dermatologist
Your dermatologist will assess how much of your skin is affected by psoriasis and determine whether it is mild, moderate or severe. To learn more about how psoriasis is diagnosed, review the Diagnosis section.
This section is not meant to diagnose your condition nor provide any information on the status of your psoriasis or the effectiveness of your current treatment. Only a qualified healthcare professional can provide you with such information.
Though it may seem easy to spot a skin condition like psoriasis, it can be hard for the untrained eye. The only way to know for sure is to show your dermatologist what you’re dealing with.
COULD YOU BE GETTING MORE OUT OF YOUR TREATMENT? STEP 4 HELPS YOU DETERMINE HOW WELL YOUR CURRENT TREATMENT IS WORKING AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU COULD BE GETTING MORE OUT OF YOUR THERAPY.
In Step 4, we will help you assess how satisfied you are with your current psoriasis treatment. For some people, simply reducing the size and/or number of plaques may not be enough to get them where they want to be with their psoriasis. They may expect further reductions, longer-lasting treatment effects, less frequent dosing, a different method of dosing, fewer side effects, etc. Everyone’s goals and expectations will be different. After reviewing the information in this section, you should be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do I know how to measure whether or not I am getting the most out of my treatment?
- Do I fully understand the impact that psoriasis is having on my life?
- Do I understand how to locate and ask for a referral to a dermatologist?
Is my psoriasis treatment getting me to where I want to be?
If you are not achieving your treatment goals, it may be because your psoriasis has changed, your goals have changed, or the treatment you are using is not appropriate for you. Take the Psoriasis Impact on Daily Living Quiz to find out how much psoriasis is really affecting you.
This tool is not meant to diagnose your condition nor provide any information on the status of your psoriasis or the effectiveness of your current treatment. Only a qualified healthcare professional can provide you with such information.
If you are not satisfied with your current treatment, ask for a referral to a dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis. There are many dermatologists who choose to make psoriasis one of their specialties.
If you already have a dermatologist and the treatment you are receiving is not working for you, learn more about other treatment options that may be better suited to you and your condition.
Talk to your doctor. Together, you can determine which one might be best for you.
TREATMENT ALONE MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO MEET YOUR GOALS. CHECK OUT STEP 5 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PSORIASIS.
In Step 5 we examine the general concept of living well with psoriasis and how you can continue to manage your condition moving forward.
At the end of this step, you should be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Am I doing everything I can to avoid flare-ups?
- Am I taking advantage of all the resources available to me?
- Do I know where to turn for support?
In addition to following your treatment plan as prescribed, you can help manage flare-ups by avoiding anything that seems to trigger your symptoms. This may include:
- Limiting stress
- Protecting your skin from sun exposure
- Cutting down on smoking and/or drinking
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you might still experience flare-ups. This is normal and it certainly isn’t your fault. Psoriasis can change over time and your response to triggers can change. Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in the way your psoriasis affects you.
For additional tips, check out the Daily Management section.
Living with a chronic condition (one that doesn’t go away) can be challenging, but taking an active role in your own well being can help make it easier. This includes keeping the lines of communication open between you and your dermatologist.
Check out other helpful links for additional support as you continue your journey towards living well with psoriasis.