Psoriasis study shows need for better care
Southland woman Patricia Officer Young, who has lived with psoriasis for more than 50 years, welcomes new research released today that highlights the need for better care and management in the treatment of the disease.
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that affects one in 50 New Zealand adults and causes inflamed, scaly skin lesions.
The new research, released by the Psoriasis Association Southland and drug company AbbVie, coincides with World Psoriasis Day today.
The survey showed people weren't accessing treatments or information early enough, Mrs Officer Young said.
"Greater awareness of this problem is essential to help people with psoriasis better manage their condition."
Diagnosed at 16, Mrs Officer Young said it was quite confronting to be told there was no cure.
"I was really covered in this ugly scabby thing - it was quite devastating when I was young and ready to enter the world," she said
"I hid away at my mother's station for a year because I didn't want people to see me."
She explained how treatments had advanced over the last five decades from strong smelling tar treatments, to oral medication and now light therapies - such as solar beds.
"Research internationally is improving treatments which make me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a cure," she said.
Mrs Officer Young is now the president of the Psoriasis Association Southland.
She dedicates her time to helping others by facilitating the only support group in New Zealand for people living with the disease.
The Invercargill support group has 46 members and celebrated 35 years since it began at a dinner on Sunday night.
The survey, one of New Zealand's largest into the disease, showed 50 per cent of people suffering with moderate symptoms have never received care from a dermatologist.
More than a third of respondents indicated they suffered from a high incidence of other associated conditions such as arthritis and mental illness.
Dermatologist Dr Steven Lamb said the results provided a valuable insight into the medical management of psoriasis in New Zealand.
"More than 40 per cent of people living with psoriasis still use creams and lotions to treat their symptoms," Dr Lamb said.
"It is important people receive effective treatment for not only their psoriasis but associated conditions such as depression, weight gain, joint pain, high blood pressure and psoriatic arthritis as well."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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