Patients describe psoriasis as 'monstrous'

November 6, 2014

New research looking at the psychological impact from psoriasis reveals key themes about how the skin disease affects people’s identity and relationships.

New research looking at the psychological impact from psoriasis reveals key themes about how the skin disease affects people’s identity and relationships. When asked to send messages to their psoriasis, patients characterized it as monstrous or a companion they couldn’t shed. Some patients reported self-denigration - almost self-loathing. And some described being in a constant battle with their own skin. Many thought they’d never have intimate relationships.

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Those are among the findings of a study in the October issue of the British Journal of Dermatology. Christine Bundy, Ph.D., senior lecturer in behavioral medicine and health psychology, dermatological sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, and colleagues set out to give psoriasis patients a new way to express how they feel about having the skin disease. Researchers asked patients to complete a postcard entitled, “Dear Psoriasis.”

Of the 104 postcards received, seven dominant themes emerged. According to the authors, the dominant seven were: “…identity and relationships; battleground; control; emotional consequences; hypervigilance; coping; treatment burden.”

Distress was common among psoriasis sufferers. For many, their negative emotions from the disease were long term.

“This research underscores the need for patient support and psychological treatment to be made available as part of routine care,” according to the authors.

Reference: Bundy C, Borthwick M, AcTeer H, et al. Br J Dermatol. 2014;171(4):825-831. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjd.13101/abstract

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