BOX Psoriasis sufferer hopes to find strength in numbers
By Jeff Hansel
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Modern-day elixirs like lotions, creams and ointments that supposedly treat psoriasis vex Sue Larson of Rochester.
She lives with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and sees all the Internet ads.
"Just call me, and I’ll send you my natural drink or ointment and it will cure your psoriasis," Larson quotes a Web site ad, which, she says, "is baloney."
Although valid information does exist on the Internet for people with psoriasis, Larson said, it’s important to be cautious.
"You have to be very careful about your site that you stop at, and read the information," she said.
Most people with psoriasis have the common form, called "plaque psoriasis," which can cause itchy and painful scaling of skin on hands, arms, face, legs and scalp. In Larson’s case, psoriatic arthritis affects her joints, tendons and ligaments, causing pain, trouble walking and difficulty getting around.
She has started a support group for people with psoriasis, family, friends and anyone interested in the disease process. The group’s main purpose, Larson said, is to offer a chance for affected people to get together. They’ll share concerns, learn about psoriasis and make suggestions. She plans to invite a professional to each session.
It’s important to get skin problems diagnosed by a dermatologist or family physician so you know what you have, Larson said. If it is psoriasis, doctors can help find the best treatment.
A doctor might prescribe a steroid creme or another treatment available in no other way, she said.
Aside from pain and discomfort, people with psoriasis might also experience low self-esteem, depression, stress and anxiety. That’s why Larson believes a support group can offer a good forum.
"We’re there to help each other," Larson said. It also will help people get out of the house and socialize, she said, because people with visible skin psoriasis often isolate themselves while trying to cover up cyclic rashes.
"You might have a feeling that you are ugly," Larson said. "That can make it difficult to form relationships because it’s easy to imagine that nobody would want to be intimate with you."
Stress and other life factors can trigger outbreaks, but each person reacts differently.
With psoriatic arthritis, Larson said, life gets "bound up" with mobility issues.
"That’s where I’m stuck right now," Larson said. "You look like there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s kind of one of those invisible illnesses."
She hopes the support group will lead to discussion of such issues.
Help with psoriasis
What: First meeting of Sue Larson’s support group.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 19.
Where: Rochester Public Library, Room B.
For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.
Web sites recommended by Sue Larson:
- The National Psoriasis Foundation,
- Mayo Clinic,