Psoriasis Awareness Month: It’s Not Just the Skin

As we wrap up Psoriasis Awareness Month this August, it’s a great opportunity to offer a few important facts about the disease.

Psoriasis is a genetic skin disease where your immune system causes your skin cells to reproduce too quickly. Whereas a normal skin cell matures and falls of the body’s surface in 28 to 30 days, skin that is affected by psoriasis takes only three to four days to mature and move to the surface. This results in a pile of cells forming painful lesions on the skin surface. Furthermore, stress is a common trigger for a psoriasis flare.1 So, not only are patients dealing with the stress of day-to-day flareups, they also must manage the stress to avoid the flareups. The delicate relationship between stress and flareups takes an emotional toll on a psoriasis patient.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriasis are twice as likely to become depressed, which can have a significant impact on quality of life.2 Patients’ questions and need for support doesn’t stop when they are prescribed a medication or receive that medication. Patients are eager to better understand their condition, the therapy they’ve been prescribed, and how it will impact their daily life.3 VMS Clinical Nurse Educators work tirelessly to help patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis feel educated and empowered in their condition.

Phyllis Darbiero, RN, a VMS BioMarketing Clinical Nurse Educator, says: “One of the biggest things I can do is listen and allow patients to really be heard. Sometimes, people with psoriasis hide behind their disease; I allow them a platform to be candid and discuss topics they may not normally talk about. The emotional and social support we can provide is so important to our psoriasis patients. It is so enjoyable to speak with people as they find their voice and their confidence.”

Receiving a medical diagnosis can often cause great emotion on its own, then adding a new treatment can sometimes cause added stress, said Phyllis. “When patients learn to utilize the many resources that are out there, they feel empowered and in control of their disease for the first time.” VMS educators deliver the critical teaching needed to help them become empowered, active participants in their care – equipped to manage both the practical and the emotional challenges they face living life with a serious immune disorder.

Suzette Hartke, RN, VMS Clinical Nurse Educator, says, “I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy to work with our psoriasis patients. I often hear, “I have my life back!” and “I look forward to our calls because you listen to what I have to say.”

To learn more about psoriasis and coping with depression, please visit:

National Psoriasis Foundation.
2 National Psoriasis Foundation.
3Tewarie B, Bailey V, Rebarber M, Xu J. Unmet Needs: Hearing the Challenges of Chronic Patients with Artificial Intelligence. NEJM Catalyst. Jan. 30, 2019.