September 3, 2008

Video: Grammy Award Winner LeAnn Rimes Urges Psoriasis Sufferers to ‘Stop Hiding’ and ‘Start Living’

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Many of the nearly seven million Americans living with psoriasis may be faced with physical, emotional or social challenges as they struggle with public stigmas and misperceptions of this painful, chronic immune disorder that affects the skin. Today marks the launch of a nationwide awareness campaign, "Stop Hiding from Psoriasis," led by Grammy Award-winning artist and psoriasis sufferer, LeAnn Rimes, who is working with the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) and National Psoriasis Foundation to raise awareness of psoriasis and encourage sufferers to talk to their dermatologist about the impact of the disease.

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LeAnn knows first-hand the physical and emotional pain of psoriasis. "Having battled severe psoriasis my whole life, I have gone to great lengths to hide my condition, especially as a performer. Over the years, I've had to deal with the emotional and physical toll psoriasis has had on my self-esteem and confidence, but today I no longer let psoriasis define who I am or how I feel about myself. I hope by joining this effort and sharing my story, others will be empowered to stop hiding from their psoriasis and better manage their disease and not let it limit them or their aspirations."

Why is there a need for a psoriasis campaign?

Psoriasis has long been a misunderstood disease. A Psoriasis Foundation survey found that at least half of the patients surveyed feel their psoriasis leads others to stare or think the condition is contagious. In fact, this is the reality of psoriasis:

    * Psoriasis is a non-contagious, sometimes painful, chronic immune      disorder, resulting in unexpected flare-ups of itchy, red patches of      skin called "plaques" that may crack and bleed.     * Recent research suggests that severe psoriasis may occur with other      medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and      diabetes.     * Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic      arthritis, a chronic condition that typically combines skin lesions      with a progressive form of arthritis affecting the joints.    

Another recent survey of the general public found that awareness about psoriasis and its impact is very low. Almost half of American adults surveyed admitted that they are uncomfortable around those with psoriasis, particularly in close settings like restaurant service or shaking hands in a meeting, suggesting that the misperception of psoriasis as a contagious disease is very strong.

   In particular, the survey found that:     * Most people (86%) say they've heard of psoriasis, but nearly half (48%)      say they are not very or not at all familiar with the disease.     * More than half (57%) of adults become uncomfortable when they are being      waited on in a restaurant by a server who has psoriasis, and half may      be uncomfortable accepting a date with a person who has psoriasis.     * If diagnosed with psoriasis, 82% feel they would be uncomfortable      wearing clothes that would expose their skin, and 80% felt they would      be uncomfortable being intimate with others.    

"Based on these findings, our task is to not only educate psoriasis sufferers and the public about the significant physical impact of the disease, but perhaps more importantly, to clarify some of the misconceptions that drive the painful emotional burden for patients," said dermatologist Mark Lebwohl, MD, Chairman, National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board.

How will this campaign help elevate awareness of psoriasis?

To address the needs of the psoriasis community, the Academy and the Foundation, funded with support from the global health care company Abbott, joined forces to create the campaign, "Stop Hiding from Psoriasis." This educational effort is meant not only to encourage people suffering from psoriasis to see a dermatologist to better manage their disease, but also to educate the general public about psoriasis and dispel common misperceptions attached to the disease.

"Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. Because psoriasis can be debilitating physically, mentally, and emotionally, it's extremely important for sufferers to establish a relationship with a dermatologist and initiate an ongoing discussion about their overall health -- including how their psoriasis may impact their health both physically and emotionally," said dermatologist David M. Pariser, M.D., President-Elect, American Academy of Dermatology. "Together, psoriasis patients and their dermatologists can determine an appropriate plan to manage their disease. There's no reason for people to hide and suffer alone."

Learning More About Psoriasis

Psoriasis affects nearly seven million people in the U.S. The chronic, non-contagious immune disorder speeds the growth cycle of skin cells and results in thick, scaly areas of skin. While psoriasis can occur in people of all ages, it typically appears in patients between the ages of 15 and 35, and currently has no cure. The most common form, called plaque psoriasis, appears as red, raised areas of skin covered with flaky white scales that may itch or burn.

Psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso, though it can develop anywhere on the skin. It may even occur on the fingernails and toenails. In addition to its physical symptoms, psoriasis also may affect one's life, potentially leading to poor self image. Some patients experience social isolation, and depression -- from dealing with the misperception that psoriasis is contagious to worrying about how to hide symptoms. Social interactions -- from initiating a friendship to starting a relationship -- may become more challenging when living with psoriasis.

For more information about psoriasis, visit, a new Web site with information about psoriasis and additional background on the effort to raise awareness by encouraging psoriasis sufferers to "stop hiding" and "start living."

About the American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 15,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

The National Psoriasis Foundation is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to serving people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Through education and advocacy, the Foundation promotes awareness and understanding, ensures access to treatment and supports research that will lead to effective management and a cure. For more information, please call the Psoriasis Foundation, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, at 800.723.9166, or visit

About the Campaign Surveys

The National Psoriasis Foundation conducts survey panels twice each year to understand the experiences and opinions of people with psoriasis. These surveys help the Foundation gain awareness and document the impact of this disease. Each survey sample consists of more than 400 psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients. Approximately two-in-three respondents reported having moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

As part of the Stop Hiding campaign, Abbott also conducted a detailed survey of American consumers to assess awareness, knowledge and attitudes about psoriasis. The online survey, conducted in June 2008, was directed to 1,000 adults aged 18 to 65, in a sample representative of the U.S. population based on U.S. Census Bureau indicators.

Editors' Note: Photos are available via the Associated Press Photo Network and on the Internet at Feature Photo Service's link through

    Contact:    Jessica Donnelly    Edelman    312-240-2886    [email protected]  


American Academy of Dermatology; National Psoriasis Foundation

CONTACT: Jessica Donnelly of Edelman, +1-312-240-2886,[email protected]

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