THE economic downturn is being blamed for psoriasis flare-ups, with sufferers fearing unemployment, wage reductions and increasing taxes, new research shows.
More than 40% of people with psoriasis felt more stressed now than they did before the recession.
And more than a third felt that their increased stress levels had exacerbated their skin condition.
The research, released to mark the launch of National Psoriasis Awareness Week, was based on a study of more than 100 people attending GP psoriasis clinics around the country.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects more than 100,000 people in Ireland.
The non-contagious condition can be triggered or aggravated by elevated stress levels as well as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and genetic factors.
Chairperson of the Psoriasis Association of Ireland, Caroline Irwin, said stress was a common trigger of psoriasis and could be a double-edged sword for many individuals with the condition.
“A person may find that stress aggravates their condition and having psoriasis causes them to get stressed,” she said.
New research to be presented at the association’s national convention in Galway today will show the lives of quiet desperation that many patients with psoriasis lead.
It reveals how much people with psoriasis were in fear or dread that people might comment on their condition in public.
“Being honest with you, I felt like a leper,” one sufferer commented.
The study found that a significant number of women tended to use food to cope with the stress and anxiety arising from the condition.
Ms Irwin has suffered from psoriasis for 40 years.
“I had psoriasis since I was nine years old but I did not go to a dermatologist until I was 18. By then I had to be hospitalised. I have it from head to toe but I have strong medication that is keeping it at bay,” she pointed out.
The association is urging GPs to take the time to advise people with psoriasis on how to properly treat the condition.
Ms Irwin said people with psoriasis should also see a dermatologist at least once a year.
“There are 22 dermatologists in the country but we need about 45,” she said.
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