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October 29th Psoriasis Day History Treatments Coal to Medications

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Last updated 11/18/2021

World Psoriasis Day was launched in 2004. Since then it has been observed every October 29th.  Psoriasis Day History.

This disease affects over 125 million around the world. Therefore the day is to raise awareness, education and improve access to treatment.

Psoriasis Day History

The International Federation of Psoriatic Disease Association (IFPA) organized World Psoriasis Day. It has been celebrated on October 29th since 2004. In addition World Psoriasis Day is now observed in more than 50 countries.

World Psoriasis Day addresses the challenges that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis sufferers deal with. For example psoriasis associations share and celebrate information about the condition and improve access to treatment.

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What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis was first mentioned at the beginning of medicine in the Corpus Hippocraticum. The chronic skin disease is thought to be an autoimmune condition.

It is categorized by the buildup of thick red skin and silvery scales. Your skin cells work over-time and collect at the surface. Further there are five psoriasis types and it can also affect your joints.

Psoriasis can be triggered by infections, cold weather, smoking and stress. Most importantly it is not contagious as it was believed to be in earlier times and mistaken for leprosy.

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy (aka Hansen's disease) has been identified since biblical times. In fact it is mentioned quite often and employed like an umbrella term for skin conditions. Thus, the early confusion.

This disease differs from psoriasis as it’s a contagious bacterial infection. Leprosy is caused by the bacterium mycobacterium leprae. Most importantly it is rare these days.

It usually affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. Ulcers and lesions are seen on the skin. As a result it can lead to a lack of feeling connected with the nerves.

Leprosy is transmitted to others through airborne exposure. It requires diagnosis by a medical professional. If left untreated it can be dangerous and deadly. Above all it can be treated with antibiotics.

Psoriasis Historical Treatment

Have you ever wondered about the history of a skin condition? I guess I’m weird like that. However I discovered some interesting facts about psoriasis.

Psoriasis has been recorded as far back as biblical times. There has even been evidence of the condition showing up in Egyptian mummies. Further you’ll see the treatment for this condition has taken some turns through the centuries.

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Early History of Psoriasis Treatments

As you go back in history you’re going to find many different beliefs concerning the cause of psoriasis. Fast forward there are many clinical trials and research.

But in early history causes of psoriasis were believed to be:

  • Bad hygiene
  • Malnutrition
  • Microbes
  • Blood disorders
  • Allergies
  • Underlying heath conditions

Further the result was crazy treatments to try to cure the condition. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, in 2000 B.C;

Ancient Egyptians treated psoriasis with:

  • Cat and dog feces
  • Urine
  • Goose oil
  • Onions combined with sea salt

In ancient times sunlight was discovered to have an effect on treating the severity of psoriasis symptoms. Moreover sunlight was then utilized in the treatment.

Hippocrates

Hippocrates (460-377 BC) known as the Greek “Father of Medicine” was the first to treat psoriasis with coal tar. This was to increase sensitivity to sunlight. On the other hand he also encouraged topical arsenic.

He described dry, flaky skin patches as “lopoi” meaning the “epidermis”.  And he conceived a connection between the beginning of guttate psoriasis and a sore throat.

Galen

Galen (133-206 AD) a Greek physician was the first to acknowledge psoriasis as a condition of the skin. He described a skin disorder involving itchy scales on the eyelids, corners of the eyes and scrotum. Moreover you know today psoriasis can affect any area of the skin, back then this is probably were doctors saw the condition most.

Further using the Greek word “psora” meaning “to itch” he penned this terminology. In addition to topical arsenic, he recommended applying a broth containing a boiled viper.

Also during this time psoriasis was compared to leprosy. This led to people believing that it was contagious (though later proven untrue). So people who suffered with psoriasis usually were isolated and shunned from society. Thus they were treated with this social stigma.

Leprosy and Psoriasis in the 1300s

Leprosy and psoriasis continued to be confused. Likewise this caused many psoriatic patients to receive a leprosy diagnosis.

As a result treatment could have even been declaration of death by the church. At the beginning of 1313 Philip de Fair (aka the King of France) gave orders for those suffering of psoriasis to be burned at the stake.

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Psoriasis Treatment in the 19th Century

1809

Robert Willan, an English doctor, was the first to distinguish psoriasis compared to similar skin conditions. In addition Doctor Willan clearly explained the disease by describing the psoriasis lesions.

He illustrated these differences between the types including Guttate with his drawings. Above all this was a huge help because it brought a new way of classifying and diagnosing the disease.

1818

Jean Louis Alibert famed French Dermatologist founded the connection of psoriasis and leprosy. He began a system where skin conditions were classified. That is to say it was according to their cause, appearance, duration and how they reacted to treatment. In short he specialized in those having chronic disorders like skin conditions including syphilis and leprosy.

1841

Ferdinand von Hebra an Austrian dermatologist formally made the separation with psoriasis and leprosy. The doctor described the differences between psoriasis and leprosy eliminating the connection between the terms. That is to say he shed the term “lepra” describing psoriasis from leprosy. In addition during this time period the psoriasis treatments of tar, arsenic and sunlight continued.

1860

French Doctor Pierre Bazin was the first to utilize the term “psoriasis arthritique” or “arthritic psoriasis.”

Treatment of Psoriasis in the 20th Century to Present

1950s

Topical corticosteroids became a psoriasis treatment. Physicians discovered their beneficial anti-inflammatory qualities to reduce psoriasis symptoms. In conclusion the long term risk weren’t identified then.

American dermatologist William Goeckerman’s therapy of using coal tar was a common treatment. It was first formulated in 1925. In addition this was combined with an early type of ultraviolet light phototherapy.

1960s

Here psoriasis began to be thought of as an autoimmune condition. This is due to your body’s immune system response. During this time psoriatic arthritis was identified as being another clinical condition.

As I said earlier with modern times there has been much more research into psoriasis. Discovering the pathology of this skin condition has led to targeted treatments. Sunlight with its effect was expanded bringing the introduction of phototherapy. As a result the affected areas of the skin can be administered with ultraviolet radiation.

Phototherapy (ultraviolet B) is found in natural sunlight. Through the centuries sunlight was effective as a psoriasis treatment because it slowed the affected growing skin cells. In other words the skin is exposed to artificial UVB light for a certain time and on a consistent schedule.

Also introduced were systemic medications. These worked by attacking the physiological process inside the body that caused psoriasis. Certainly treatment depended on the patient’s severity, accounting for how much skin was covered and if topical treatments had been used.

1990s

The Human Genome Project conducted in the 1990’s has brought research about the involvement of genes and family history. Thus several genes were identified as being associated with psoriasis.

At the end of the 20th century Biologic medications made an introduction to the market. They are the latest development with treating psoriasis today. Most importantly their primary action is to target immune cells that are responsible for psoriasis symptoms.

2000s

The latest research has been a new project called HIPPOCRATES. This is looking into mechanisms of psoriatic arthritis.

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Natural Treatments for Psoriasis

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is great for any dry, inflamed skin condition. A cream of 0.5% aloe could reduce your scales and ease redness. To sum up this can be used up to three times a day.

Salt Bath

This could remove some of your scales and assist you in feeling less itchy. Place Dead Sea or Epsom salts to warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Further after bathing apply moisturizer so your skin doesn’t get too dry.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Oatmeal products have assisted those with dry eczema skin. Some say their skin has resulted in less red and itchy areas when they soak in an oatmeal bath or apply a paste to their skin.

Psoriasis Clinic

If you are in the Milwaukee area, there is a Psoriasis Clinic if you would like to contact a specialist. (Note: All About Our Skin has no connection). However if you have been treated here I’d like to hear about it, drop me a comment.

Wrapping it up

Declaring a day of awareness has brought this skin disease forth. The treatment for psoriasis has certainly improved from using feces and urine in earlier times to phototherapy adapted from sunlight today.  In addition extensive research and clinical trials have certainly helped.

Psoriasis and leprosy are not the same after all. This has been determined. Most importantly with the years brings education on this skin disease and no reason to shun those with it.

Mary

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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