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Survey: Emotional Impact of Psoriasis Highlights Needs for New Treatments


Nearly all survey takers reported wanting topical treatment options that are more effective, not steroids, and simpler to use.

Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a late-stage biopharmaceutical company, recently announced findings from the Skin insights: Uncovering Psoriasis Survey which was conducted by the Harris Poll. The national survey polled 507 patients 18 years and older, diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, and were being treated with topical treatments that were not biologics. The company designed the survey to determine the emotional impact of psoriasis along with identifying the challenges related to the current topical treatments.

“The results from this survey illuminate the ongoing difficulties individuals with psoriasis are experiencing with their disease, as well as with their topical treatments,” said Frank Watanabe, president and CEO of Arcutis, in the press release. “The insights for individuals with intertriginous psoriasis in particular are critical to increasing understanding of the significant negative impact the disease can have on emotional wellbeing, and the factors that may significantly contribute to overall disease burden for those living with psoriasis.”

Of the 507 adults surveyed, 320 reported have psoriasis in intertriginous areas at some point in time such as the armpits, under the breasts, stomach folds, between the buttocks, and in the groin area.

Key Findings

Those with psoriasis want more effective and easier to use topical treatment options. When asked what they wish for when it came to using topical treatments, it was found:

  • 90% wish there were more effective topical treatment options
  • 90% wish they could use a single topical therapy anywhere on their body
  • 81% wish they had more topical treatment alternatives to steroids
  • 68% want a product that provides both improvement in plaques and itch relief

Also, of the respondents with psoriasis in intertriginous areas, 52% said they needed to use different topical treatments for different parts of their body and described doing so to be time consuming (54%), expensive (40%), and frustrating (38%), according to the press release.

Building on the needs of those with psoriasis in intertriginous areas, 64% of respondents have experienced this issue at some point in time, which is higher than past epidemiological studies have suggested. It was found that 40% of those with psoriasis in intertriginous areas did not recognize they had intertriginous psoriasis symptoms until they saw pictures of intertriginous plaques.

When it came to emotional and sexual impact, it was found:

  • About 3 in 4 patients with psoriasis in intertriginous areas said dealing with psoriasis in these areas affected their wellbeing, including making them feel embarrassed (80%), anxious (79%), and depressed (69%).
  • Nearly half of those with psoriasis in intertriginous areas (45%) reported a strong or very strong negative impact on sexual distress/anxiety, with more than a third reporting a negative impact on intimate relationships (39%) and sexual function (37%).

Building upon these findings, it was also shown that most individuals who took the survey with intertriginous psoriasis do not show their health care provider psoriasis in intertriginous areas of their body. This may suggest a need for more dialogue between patients and their health care providers about the occurrence of psoriasis in intertriginous areas and treatment options, according to the press release.

This could be due to variability in skin exams such as whether patients feel comfortable showing an area of skin covered by clothing or if patients are asked to disrobe:

  • 64% of respondents with intertriginous disease avoid showing their health care providers these areas of their body, with embarrassment (27%) being the top reason why.Further, the buttocks are the most common for these patients to experience psoriasis symptoms, but 81% do not typically show this area of their body to their health care provider.
  • 43% of intertriginous patients that use different treatments for different parts of their body report using treatments on areas of their skin they did not discuss with their health care provider, and 31% of those with intertriginous psoriasis report using treatments for longer than prescribed by their health care provider.

“Psoriasis in intertriginous areas can be especially challenging for both those living with this condition as well as for their health care providers. People are either unaware or embarrassed about their psoriasis in these areas and shy away from showing or discussing their symptoms during an examination,” said Teri Greiling, MD, PhD, associate professor and vice-chair, Dermatology Oregon Health & Science University, in the press release. “As a result, not only will patients continue to struggle with their physical symptoms, but also often experience psychological and emotional distress due to their condition. These survey results underscore the need for a more open dialogue between patients and their health care providers when it comes to the management of psoriasis in intertriginous areas.”


National survey reveals insights into emotional impact of psoriasis and illuminates need for new topical treatments. Arcutis Biotherapeutics. Press release. Published March 22, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2022. https://www.arcutis.com/national-survey-reveals-insights-into-emotional-impact-of-psoriasis-and-illuminates-need-for-new-topical-treatments/

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