Psoriasis: an uncommon yet life threatening skin condition

09th May 2017
Psoriasis Infection Source:The Midweek Sun


By Rachel Raditsebe -

She basked in her rosy glow during pregnancy and wished it could last forever. However, after the birth of her son, a skin condition she has battled since 2008 was back with a vengeance.

Kebitsaone Motheo, 28, is suffering from psoriasis, a condition that makes her skin appear dry, scaly and flaky on the legs, hands and back. She is a member of the Psoriasis Association of Botswana that seeks to create awareness and campaign for improved medical care on the disease.

“I choose to speak out about psoriasis because it is often misunderstood and persons with the condition are stigmatised or prevented from participating in social activities,” said the mother of a nine-month old boy. Individuals with the condition are prone to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, stroke and liver disease among other lifestyle diseases.

Psoriasis is not contagious, however, if not properly managed, it can lead to heart complications like hardening and narrowing of artery walls, diabetes and arthritis. These underlying complications worried Motheo when she was pregnant with her first child last year. It’s an unpredictable scenario when a person with psoriasis is pregnant because it can improve, worsen or remain unchanged.

Luckily for her the pregnancy suppressed the condition leaving a flawless youthful skin.

“My skin took a different turn. Psoriasis ‘disappeared’ leaving me with an even-toned skin. It felt great to have smooth skin that I could rub without the dry and scaly feel,” she said in an interview.

Her dermatologist advised her to discontinue the oral medicines and ointments that had become a daily routine before pregnancy. “For a while, I forgot about psoriasis and concentrated on my pregnancy that was also trouble-free,” she added. But after delivery, psoriasis was back and she had to start a regime of oral medicines, ointments and phototherapy.

“It is not all gloomy because I know how to take care of my skin to prevent flares. I am more concerned about a young lady or man too embarrassed to admit that they have psoriasis and take an extra step to seek medical assistance,” said Motheo. The World Health Organistion (WHO) describes psoriasis as a chronic, painful, disfiguring, disabling and incurable disease.

Dermatologist at Derma Plus Clinic, Dr Spasoje Radovanovic says psoriasis is a serious non-communicable disease and should be recognised as such. It is a build-up of new cells in the top layer of the skin, forming a scaly-like appearance. “These skin cells grow faster than your body can shed them off leaving thick red patches,” says Dr Radovanovic.

Many people, he said, suffer needlessly from psoriasis due to incorrect or delayed diagnosis, inadequate treatment options and insufficient access to care, and because of social stigmatisation. Although there are various types of psoriasis, Dr Radovanovic estimates that about one in every two persons has a type known as scalp psoriasis which has a silvery and powdery appearance, but very different from dandruff. 

He said the causes of the condition remain largely unknown.
“It can be provoked by external and internal triggers, including mild trauma, sunburn, infections, medicines and stress,” he shared. He also said that the condition most likely runs in families. However, he advises one to consult a skin specialist on medicines, both topical and oral, which are best suited for use especially during pregnancy.

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