What is World Psoriasis Day?
World Psoriasis Day, observed on October 29, shines a light on challenges faced by those suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a disease that results from an overactive immune system and is evidenced by rashes on the skin. While most immune systems take 30 or so days to push new cells to the skin, those with psoriasis push new cells within two to three days. On World Psoriasis Day, psoriasis associations strive to spread information about the condition and improve access to treatment.
History of World Psoriasis Day
The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) presents World Psoriasis Day to recognize those with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. It has been celebrated on October 29 for more than a decade. On World Psoriasis Day, our member associations and their supporters organize activities around the world to raise awareness of psoriasis.
Both doctors and patients have misunderstood psoriasis or centuries. While able to isolate the symptoms, the most respected medical minds of ancient times still remained baffled. Hippocrates finally replaced superstition with knowledge in treating skin ailments by introducing tar into the mix. (However he also prescribed topical arsenic.)
The Greek physician Galen identified psoriasis as a skin disease through clinical observation and was the first to label it as psoriasis. But, along with arsenic, he suggested applying broth in which a viper had been boiled.
The condition, often mixed up with skin disorders believed contagious, led to confusion with leprosy (blame the Old Testament) and its accompanying social stigma. Officials in medieval Europe forced psoriasis sufferers to warn others of their arrival by ringing a clapper.
Per the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Ellen Seiden, “[Treatment] ideas included lubricating the skin and wrapping the body in sheets for days to create an occlusion (cover) to loosen scales. Popular applications sometimes included toxic ingredients such as nitrate, sulfur and mercury, causing side effects harmful enough to outweigh any benefits. Most solutions were smelly, irritating, and time-consuming.”