In the lead up to World Psoriasis Day on 29 October, the Dermatology Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is working to raise public awareness of psoriasis; the commonly misunderstood skin disease which often leads to children and adults feeling distanced from their communities.

Approximately 3% of Qatar’s population is affected by psoriasis; a chronic (long term) skin disease associated with the over production of skin cells, usually resulting in flaky, scaly and irritated skin.

As part of its education efforts, HMC experts are holding a public psoriasis lecture on Tuesday 29 October 2013. The lecture will be held at HMC’s Medical Education Center in Hajar Auditorium from 6 pm to 9 pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Dr Ahmad Hazem Takiddin, a dermatologist at HMC, explains that the way psoriasis looks can often lead to people assuming it is an infectious disease, which is not the case. He said:

Psoriasis is not at all contagious, it cannot be transferred though physical contact, sharing a towel or through swimming in shared pool water.’

Rather than being contagious, psoriasis is hereditary and carried through family genes. An individual is more likely to experience the disease if they have a biological family member with psoriasis. Dr Takiddin said:

If a child has one parent with psoriasis they have a 10% to 25% chance of getting it too.’

Psoriasis is often triggered for the first time by an outside event; stress, a wound to the skin and a throat infection can all be precursors to a bout of psoriasis. Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol have all been linked to worsening the symptoms of psoriasis. Dr Takiddin said:

Stress, skin damage, infection and smoking or alcohol consumption, etc. are triggers for some people. People with psoriasis can avoid or reduce their symptoms if they know what triggers their condition.’

Dr Takiddin is also keen to highlight the facts about psoriasis to the general public in order to reduce the social stigma and emotional effects experienced by some of his own patients. He said:

Emotional and social effects are a big element of concern for people living with psoriasis. Often individuals are ashamed of their appearance which can affect the way that they form relationships. There is a general worry that people will stare at them or avoid being in contact with them. If people understand more about psoriasis, they will be more understanding and accepting of it which will help individuals with psoriasis to feel more comfortable.’