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Psoriasis is more serious as it also affects muscle joints, says expert
By AUSTIN CAMOENS
JOHOR BARU: Psoriasis also affects the joints, and the public misconception that it is just a skin disease needs to be corrected, according to a medical expert.
Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) dermatologist Dr Choon Siew Eng said many Malaysians were still unaware of the severity of the disease.
“Psoriasis is believed to affect between 2% and 3% of the country’s population, but many do not know they have the disease because they believe it is a skin disease or fungal infection,” she said.
She added that since the set-up of a psoriasis registry here in 1992, there were 2,829 patients suffering from the disease. Dr Choon said the first sign that an individual was having psoriasis was a troublesome scalp resembling bad dandruff.
“Although there is no cure for the disease, it can be controlled with proper treatment,” she said in her presentation during a talk at the hospital yesterday.Dr Choon added that conventional treatment for the disease would cost about RM100 a month, but there were designer drugs that could help contain the disease faster costing between RM4,000 and RM5,000 a month.
A psoriasis patient, who only wanted to be known as Morgan, 43, said individuals suffering from the disease must be mentally strong. “I was diagnosed with psoriasis about 22 years ago, and it has been a depressing time for me,” he said, adding that he believed stress played a major role in triggering the disease.
Morgan said the only way to keep the disease at bay was to keep one’s spirits high and to diligently take the medication prescribed.
Another patient, Guna, in his 50s, said he has had the disease for 26 years, and he kept away from society initially because he was embarassed with his condition.
“It was difficult for my family and close friends to accept the disease because they did not understand how it could happen to me,” he said. Psoriasis Association of Malaysia (PAM) president Eugene Clifford Cross said the association was established to update patients on the latest treatment and information about the disease.
“The association is a support group for people afflicted by the disease to get professional advice, as well as to share their experiences with fellow patients,” he said. To learn more about PAM or other information, visit its website at http://www.psoriasismalaysia.org or call 03-8948 4335.