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You Only Think You Know Psoriasis

5 misconceptions about the autoimmune disorder

Psoriasis affects about 7.5 million people in this country, but there are still misconceptions about what it is, what causes it and how to treat it.

  1. Psoriasis is a skin condition. It’s easy to understand this misconception because the symptoms of the disease appear on the skin. But psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks normal tissues.
  2. It is diagnosed easily. Doctors first have to rule out other possibilities, including skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, or allergic rashes. The truth is that many people who have psoriasis probably don’t know they have it.
  3. It’s contagious. Red, flaky patches on the skin make some people associate the symptoms with chicken pox and they assume it spreads through contact. But you can’t catch psoriasis from someone else.
  4. It can be easily hidden. About those red, flaky patches: They can appear anywhere—from the scalp to elbows and knees and even fingernails. Pants and and long sleeves can hide some of the patches, but not all of them.
  5. Psoriasis eventually goes away. There is no cure for the disease. Treatments are effective in helping manage the condition, but they may need to be adjusted because their effectiveness can diminish over time. People with psoriasis will have to work closely with their physician to make treatment changes.
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