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What is World Psoriasis Day?
World Psoriasis Day, observed on October 29, shines a light on challenges faced by those suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a disease that results from an overactive immune system and is evidenced by rashes on the skin. While most immune systems take 30 or so days to push new cells to the skin, those with psoriasis push new cells within two to three days. On World Psoriasis Day, psoriasis associations strive to spread information about the condition and improve access to treatment.
History of World Psoriasis Day
The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) presents World Psoriasis Day to recognize those with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. It has been celebrated on October 29 for more than a decade. On World Psoriasis Day, our member associations and their supporters organize activities around the world to raise awareness of psoriasis.
Both doctors and patients have misunderstood psoriasis or centuries. While able to isolate the symptoms, the most respected medical minds of ancient times still remained baffled. Hippocrates finally replaced superstition with knowledge in treating skin ailments by introducing tar into the mix. (However he also prescribed topical arsenic.)
The Greek physician Galen identified psoriasis as a skin disease through clinical observation and was the first to label it as psoriasis. But, along with arsenic, he suggested applying broth in which a viper had been boiled.
The condition, often mixed up with skin disorders believed contagious, led to confusion with leprosy (blame the Old Testament) and its accompanying social stigma. Officials in medieval Europe forced psoriasis sufferers to warn others of their arrival by ringing a clapper.
Per the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Ellen Seiden, “[Treatment] ideas included lubricating the skin and wrapping the body in sheets for days to create an occlusion (cover) to loosen scales. Popular applications sometimes included toxic ingredients such as nitrate, sulfur and mercury, causing side effects harmful enough to outweigh any benefits. Most solutions were smelly, irritating, and time-consuming.”
World Psoriasis Day timeline
Dr. Robert Willan of England identified psoriasis as its own separate entity.
The word "lepra" was removed from the definition of psoriasis, separating it from the disease of leprosy.
The first individual treatments for psoriasis were introduced, replacing mass treatments that relied on trial and error.
Biologic medications, introduced in the latter part of the 20th century, became the new norm for psoriasis research and treatments. These agents stem from substances found in living cells and act on the body's immune system. They treat psoriasis by targeting overactive immune cells, which cause the disease.
A JAMA Dermatology study suggests that people with psoriasis might run a higher risk of developing cancer.
World Psoriasis Day FAQs
What is psoriasis?
Do I have psoriasis?
How do I treat psoriasis itching?
How to Observe World Psoriasis Day
Take a walk
Check your local psoriasis association for runs or walks that take place on or around October 29. If there's no local association or event in your area, organize one!
Share your story
If you're a psoriasis sufferer and willing to share your story, do an interview or organize a Facebook group. Human stories are often the best way to spread awareness and help the public understand more about medical conditions.
IFPA makes flyers and postcards available for those who want to get involved in its education efforts. Feel free to use the materials to spread the word to local schools, health clubs, and other places.
3 Diseases Associated With Psoriasis
Type 2 diabetes
Psoriasis is often associated with type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the blood retains high levels of sugar.
Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, can lead to psoriasis.
Those who suffer from psoriasis may also suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, an often painful condition that affects the digestive tract.
Why World Psoriasis Day is Important
It is widespread
More than 125 million people around the world suffer from psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. World Psoriasis Day helps disseminate important information that can help ease the pain of those living with psoriasis.
You're not alone
Through events such as runs and walks, World Psoriasis Day brings together psoriasis sufferers and their friends and family to show support for expanding treatments. The day is also marked by educational seminars designed to share the latest scientific and medical research.
Funding for new research
Through outreach to potential supporters, World Psoriasis Day raises funds for new research and expanded treatment. For those already living with the disease — especially in countries with limited medical expertise — funding is critical to providing quality medical care.
World Psoriasis Day dates