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Fewer Lesions and Higher Confidence Among Top Treatment Goals for Young People With Psoriasis

Posted on November 19, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Emily Wagner, M.S.

  • Young people living with psoriasis most want to clear their skin, prevent new lesions from developing, and stop itchiness, according to a recent study.
  • When participants were divided by gender, females ranked goals relating to self-esteem and social factors as more important than did their male counterparts.
  • Studies like these can help doctors and dermatologists address the physical and emotional needs of young people with psoriasis, which can differ from those of adults.

Young people living with psoriasis want to clear their lesions while taking a safe and effective treatment, according to a recent study. They also want treatments that can help boost their self-esteem, reduce bullying, and improve their overall quality of life. These were among the findings in a study out of the Netherlands aiming at filling the gap in research on children and young adults living with psoriasis and their opinions and experiences on their treatment plans.

Overall, researchers found that the main treatment goals among young people were similar, but they found notable differences when factoring in age and gender. Females, for example, attributed greater importance to improving their self-esteem and social relationships, compared to males. Meanwhile, older respondents cited improving their quality of life as being of higher importance compared to younger participants.

“These differences emphasize the relevance of incorporating individual patient needs in the shared decision making process with physicians and patients, and indicate that patient needs may alter when going through different stages of life,” the researchers noted in the study. “To provide optimal care, interactive counseling should address the different needs of pediatric patients and their parents.”

How Psoriasis Affects Young People

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease that causes discolored, itchy patches on the skin — known as plaques or lesions. Symptoms of psoriasis often start showing in the teens and 20s, with up to one-third of cases being diagnosed before adulthood. Young people living with psoriasis can have negative experiences with the disease, and research shows that it can affect their emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.

Living with a disease like psoriasis during important developmental years has its challenges, and there are needs and goals that may be different from those in adults. However, most of the existing research only includes adults in the studies. With this, the recent study from researchers at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands set out to determine what young people and their parents value in their treatment plans.

Young People Want To Eliminate Lesions, Prefer Pills as Treatment

Overall, the study included 64 pediatric participants (ages 17 and under) and 45 of their parents, and 131 young adults (ages 18 to 30). Almost 70 percent of the participants were female, and the median age was 20.2 years. The data was collected from an online survey, which asked participants questions about the severity of psoriasis, any treatments they are taking, their treatment goals, and more.

The most important treatment goals among all of the participants included:

  • Having no lesions (37.4 percent)
  • Reducing current lesions (22.1 percent)
  • Preventing new lesions from forming (16.7 percent)

Among preferred treatment types:

  • 48.3 percent of the participants said they preferred taking pills
  • 22.7 percent preferred topical medications
  • 19.3 percent favored injections
  • 9.2 percent preferred UV therapy

Overall, 42 percent of participants also listed “high effectiveness” as a main characteristic that they value in their treatments. “Safe on long-term” followed at 20.7 percent.

When the participants were asked about their ideal treatment, many responded that they want a safe and effective treatment that does not take up their time and allows them to live a normal life.

Young Females With Psoriasis Report More Social Struggles

The participants also answered differently based on gender. For example, females cited among their most important treatment goals:

  • Feeling more confident — 73.6 percent vs. 52.7 percent of males
  • Being less of a burden to family and friends — 60.5 percent, compared 44.2 percent of males
  • Experiencing less bullying due to the appearance of their skin — 44.5 percent, compared to 25.5 percent of males

More than half of all female respondents also included among their most important treatment goals living a normal everyday life (65.1 percent), having better quality sleep (61.2 percent), functioning better at school or work (61.2 percent), and being able to have a normal sex life or greater intimacy (57.1 percent).

For males, top treatment goals included:

  • Having no side effects — 84.9 percent, compared to 77.2 percent of females
  • Having fewer or no hospital visits — 58.5 percent vs. 39.4 percent of females
  • Being inexpensive — 61 percent vs. 44.1 percent of females

More than half of male respondents also included living a normal everyday life (54.5 percent) and getting better quality sleep (52.7 percent) as important treatment goals.

Psoriasis Affects Quality of Life Most in Young Adults

Age also played a role in responses to the survey. For young adults, top treatment goals included:

  • Feeling more confident — 74 percent
  • Getting better quality sleep — 63.4 percent
  • Functioning better at school or work — 62.6 percent
  • Being able to have a normal sex life or being intimate — 57.7 percent

Adolescents said their most important goals included:

  • Living a normal everyday life — 69.2 percent
  • Feeling more confident — 53.8 percent
  • Getting better quality of sleep — 51.3 percent
  • Not being different from their peers — 51.3 percent

The complete study is available through the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Emily Wagner, M.S. holds a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology. She is passionate about immunology, cancer biology, and molecular biology. Learn more about her here.

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