Unfortunately, health issues happen. It doesn’t matter how healthy you think you are, a health problem can arise and strike at nearly any time.
One of those health issues which could randomly rear its ugly head unannounced is psoriasis. While some infants and children can develop it, most cases of psoriasis commonly develop while someone is between 20 to 30 years old or 50 to 60 years old (1). You may not have even previously realized you were at a predisposition for the disease, and yet, it suddenly showed up on your skin.
What Is Psoriasis?
Maybe you haven’t been diagnosed with psoriasis, but you meet the age range of typical diagnosis and now you’re concerned because you don’t know what it is.
For those that don’t know, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease (2) which causes a chronic skin condition where the skin breaks out in dry, itchy, scaly, rash-like patches, most commonly found on your knees, elbows, torso and/or scalp (3).
Unfortunately, once psoriasis presents itself on your body, the condition is a long-term one and there’s no cure for it, though it is treatable.
You may be asking how is a skin condition considered an autoimmune disease? It’s classified as one because your body’s overactive immune system’s infection-fighting cells attack its own healthy skin tissues and cells by mistake. This causes inflammation and an accelerated production of skin cells.
The cells build up way too quickly and your body can’t shed them fast enough. The build-up then shows itself as patches of thickened, scaly skin which can crack, bleed and itch. The inflammation causes the swollen areas to be red or discolored and it can be painful.
In 30% of cases, the inflammation can cause joint damage as your body’s overactive immune system begins attacking your joints instead of only your skin, which leads to psoriatic arthritis (2).
According to My Psoriasis Team, between 2% to 3% of all people worldwide deal with some type of psoriasis (2). In the United States, approximately 8 million people battle a form of psoriasis (4). It should be noted, while the disease is a chronic and long-term one, most people tend to see flare-ups which last for a duration of time, but then see periods of time where their skin calms down and the inflammation and patches decrease in prominence.
Common Types, Symptoms and Triggers of Psoriasis
Types and Symptoms
There are multiple types of psoriasis and some have different symptoms than others. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis; in fact, nearly 80% of all psoriasis cases are this type (2). As mentioned before, the most common symptoms are dry, itchy, raised skin patches on your body; their technical name is plaque, hence the plaque psoriasis name of the disease.
Guttate psoriasis primarily impacts children and young adults. This type of psoriasis will show up on skin as small, drop-shaped, dry, itchy patches. It’s most commonly found on a person’s torso and limbs. Normally, children develop this after suffering from some type of bacterial infection, such as strep throat.
Nail psoriasis is as obvious as its name: it impacts fingernails and toenails. It essentially makes nails extremely brittle where they begin to pit and become discolored. They could even potentially separate from their nail beds or crumble altogether.
Inverse psoriasis presents itself as inflamed patches of skin, but instead of being dry and scaly, are actually smooth. The inflammation gets worse when you sweat or something rubs against the skin. Therefore, this type of psoriasis is more prevalent in skin folds near genital areas.
There are many other types of psoriasis, but those four are the most common types. Believe it or not, it’s also possible to be suffering from more than one type of psoriasis at a given time. While psoriasis symptoms aren’t the prettiest things to look at, it’s important to know the disease is not contagious.
You may not realize you even have psoriasis until something triggers it to be physically seen on your body. These triggers may be genetic or environmental. Some common environmental psoriasis triggers include:
- Especially those which target your skin or those such as strep throat
- Especially during cold and/or dry conditions
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Skin injuries
- Especially cuts, scrapes, bug bites, extremely severe sunburn, etc.
- Smoking and/or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Some medications
- Especially lithium, high-blood pressure medication, antimalarial drugs, etc.
- The abrupt stoppage of taking medications
- Especially corticosteroids
Since the 1960s, doctors have commonly prescribed corticosteroids and immunosuppressants to people suffering from psoriasis. These types of drugs include cyclosporine and trexall (methotrexate), though these meds didn’t always specifically treat the root cause(s) of psoriasis.
Thanks to a lot of research in recent years, the medical community has developed drugs called Humira® (Adalimumab) and Enbrel® (Etanercept) to tackle psoriasis head-on. While these drugs won’t completely cure someone of psoriasis, they can help someone see completely clear skin for long periods of time.
A type of at-home remedy for some types of psoriasis could simply be putting moisturizer on your psoriasis patches. Regular old moisturizers can help trap water into your skin and can help soothe dry, cracked and itchy skin.
Making Psoriasis Medications Affordable
Unfortunately, psoriasis medication isn’t typically cheap, especially if you don’t have health insurance. Luckily, there are ways to make it more affordable though (5).
One of the best ways to lower the cost of psoriasis medications is by acquiring a copay card. Copay cards can also be called manufacturer cards or copay coupons. These cards essentially act as coupons from the manufacturer to help you cover any costs you may be forced to pay out-of-pocket, also known as the costs your insurance provider doesn’t pay for you.
You could ask your doctor or local pharmacist about how and where to find these copay cards or you could look up if your medication’s manufacturer offers one of these to its consumers.
Humira® offers its consumers the Humira® Complete Savings Card where eligible, commercially-insured patients could pay as little as $5 per month for their meds (6). The Enbrell® Copay Card can also help eligible patients lower their monthly out-of-pocket prescription costs (7). Additionally, Skyrizi®’s Complete Savings Card can also help eligible patients pay $5 for their quarterly doses (8).
It should be noted most copay cards will not be eligible to be paired with federal insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) also exist, especially for low-income patients who don’t have health insurance. Many nonprofits help fund these PAPs and the occasional drug manufacturer does as well. The best way to find out about PAPs you may be eligible to participate in is by talking to a doctor or your local pharmacist.
Thanks to modern technology, finding help to lower the cost of your psoriasis medications may be as simple as turning to your smartphone. Apps and websites such as GoodRx can help you shop around and find pharmacies in your area which sell your medications at the lowest prices possible.
Another online place that may be able to help is Simplefill (9). You can apply for Simplefill’s assistance online or over the phone by calling 1-877-386-0206. Within 24 hours, a Simplefill representative will then contact you back for an interview.
Depending on your responses to the interview questions, that representative will help match you to the proper psoriasis assistance programs for which you’ll be eligible. Not only will Simplefill match you to assistance programs, but your dedicated representative can also submit other helpful applications for you for other types of assistance.
Psoriasis is not a fun autoimmune disease to deal with and it’s not curable, but people diagnosed with psoriasis who are on medications for it can take solace in the fact there are programs which exist to help them afford their prescriptions so they can live their best lives.
(3) — Mayo Clinic
(6) — Humira® Savings Program
(7) — Enbrel® Savings Program
(8) — Skyrizi® Savings