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    NMCP Dermatologist: Psoriasis Awareness Month



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers 

    Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth

    August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, and a dermatologist from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth explains what’s behind this inflammatory skin disease.

    “I think it’s good to get awareness out there in the community about what psoriasis is; it’s not contagious and it’s not cancer,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rachel Ellis, an NMCP staff dermatologist. “It’s also important for patients, too, to understand that this is your body telling you that you are sick and we have to treat your body so that your other organs are ok.”

    There are different types of psoriasis. The most common are guttate and plaque. Guttate psoriasis, triggered by an infection such as strep throat, can be considered short-term. It is treated with medication and it goes away.

    Plaque psoriasis is a long-term condition. These are pink or red plaques on the skin, most commonly the elbows, knees and scalp, but can appear anywhere on the body. Some people develop fingernail dystrophy, and sometimes it just manifests as joint pain.

    “Overall, we know the chemical pathways in the body, and we know that there’s hereditary links, but we don’t really know the exact cause of it,” Ellis said.

    Ellis explains that psoriasis has a profound effect on a person’s quality of life, something that most people misunderstand.

    “It affects how they feel about themselves, and can even affect employment,” Ellis said. “A lot of times an employer says “you are contagious” without understanding what the disease is. Psoriasis is not contagious.”

    When a person is not confident with themselves, or with how they look, it may lead to depression. Depending on how bad the plaques are, they can be fissuring, uncomfortable and painful.

    Psoriasis can affect a service member’s medical status. Depending on severity of the disease and the treatment option, deployability may be limited.

    “We try to do the most conservative treatment to keep people on active duty and keep them worldwide deployable,” Ellis said. “However, if they need a systemic medication, it’s more worth it to treat the disease than to keep somebody fit for full duty.”

    There are a multitude of treatment options, from local topical steroid creams to injections and infusions. The kind of treatment a patient receives depends on the patient and the extent of the disease.

    As the U. S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, including its nine branch clinics located throughout the Hampton Roads area, additionally offers premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.



    Date Taken: 08.13.2018
    Date Posted: 08.13.2018 08:27
    Story ID: 288445
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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