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According to dermatologists Dr. Joshua Fox and Dr. Robert Levine, psoriasis and eczema are painful. They make everyday actions uncomfortable and they carry a stigma that can lead to a loss of self-esteem, depression, and other health complications.
A shocking number of Americans have psoriasis and eczema—39 million adults and children—which is more than four times the population of New York City, the largest city in the US. According to dermatology specialists Dr. Joshua Fox and Dr. Robert Levine with Advanced Dermatology, PC, the seasonal change to cold, dry air creates difficulties for people dealing with these chronic skin disorders.
“It is important to manage symptoms,” says Dr. Fox, who has served on the board of the National Psoriasis Foundation. “Psoriasis and eczema can be painful. They can make everyday actions uncomfortable for adults and children, men and women, and they carry a stigma that can lead to a loss of self-esteem, depression, and other health complications.”
Psoriasis appears on the skin as red or white, scaly patches that often itch and bleed. The patches can also look scaly or silvery in color. Nails can become yellow, ridged and separate from the nail bed. Up to 30 percent of people with the disease develop psoriatic arthritis, and recent studies indicate that patients with moderate to severe disease are also at increased risk for other associated health conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, depression and hypertension.
Eczema, a hypersensitivity disease, inflames the skin, causing pain, itching, dryness, swelling, cracking, weeping and scaling. Eczema lesions can bubble, ooze, and crust over if scratched. Skin infections can occur if bacteria invade the skin lesions.
“Once patients understand their psoriasis or eczema is not contagious, they seem to be relieved,” says Dr. Fox. “They are comforted to know there is help for their symptoms.”
Psoraisis is an autoimmune disease apparently caused by an overactive immune system that overproduces skin cells. Eczema, on the other hand, is caused by a deficient immune system in which an imbalance of skin proteins creates skin sensitivities. “This is a significant distinction because it informs treatment,” explains Dr. Fox. “A dermatologist will diagnose the condition and provide the most effective care for individual patients.”
Dr. Levine counsels that people with either psoriasis or eczema should consult their dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis and discuss the pros and cons of different treatments options.