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Living With Psoriasis: How the Disease Impacts the Daily Activities of Patients


 

Psoriasis impacts the ability to perform activities, causes embarrassment and social discrimination, and leads to a severe emotional impact in both adult and pediatric patients, according to a public meeting hosted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hear patient perspectives. A common source of distress in daily life among psoriasis patients was the lack of understanding of the disease in the general population with wrongful concerns that psoriasis is infectious or contagious.

Approximately 70 psoriasis patients or patient representatives attended the meeting in person and others attended through a live webcast. The impact of psoriasis on daily life was underscored throughout the meeting. Daily activities impacted by psoriasis included physical limitations such as an inability to participate in sports among children due to cracking of the hands and feet, or the impracticability of managing a household or going to work among adults. The inconsistency and unpredictability of the condition led patients to be viewed as unreliable. One participant explained, “If you join a team you can play this week but you can’t play next week.”

Patients and their loved ones often experienced embarrassment and social discrimination. A caregiver stated, “Specifically to a child, psoriasis means something different. It means hiding. It means feeling ashamed and it means being ashamed, and it means thinking twice before being yourself. No child should have to think twice before learning to express themselves.” Social isolation and bullying also were prominent in children, mostly because an uniformed parent or classmate did not understand the disease process.

These effects on the daily life of psoriasis patients often led to a severe emotional impact and social isolation. At a young age, psoriasis can have a devastating social and emotional toll. One caregiver shared that his/her child admitted to having thoughts of suicide. The FDA asked how many participants missed days from work and school because of the emotional toll of their psoriasis symptoms and the majority of participants raised their hands. Several participants also indicated that they had sought treatment for depression and anxiety. Many adult patients also noted that they reconsidered having children because of the destructive effects psoriasis has had on multiple generations of family members.

Dermatologists may use these patient insights to monitor the psychological impact of psoriasis on patients and refer them to a psychiatrist or psychologist when needed.

The psoriasis public meeting in March 2016 was the FDA’s 18th patient-focused drug development meeting. The FDA sought this information to have a greater understanding of the burden of psoriasis on patients and the treatments currently used to treat psoriasis and its symptoms. This information will help guide the FDA as they consider future drug approvals.

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