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Psoriasis. History written over the centuries

Unpleasant-looking skin peeling, terrible red or pink plaques … Diseases with similar external symptoms were known in ancient times. At the same time, dermatological terminology was introduced to denote such diseases. Moreover, many of the terms used by the great Hippocrates are commonly used to this day, in modern medicine.

From the time of Hippocrates …

If we talk about a disease called ” psoriasis” , then the history of its study tells that this term in ancient times meant not one, but a whole group of chronic skin diseases of an inflammatory nature. So, psoriasis was the name for diseases accompanied by the appearance of tuberosity, scaly spots, areas of keratinization of the epidermis, severe itching, burning sensation on the skin. They included various mycoses, eczema, leprosy, lichen planus, tuberculous lupus, and many other diseases with similar symptoms.  

It should be noted that each of the diseases designated by the listed terms, nevertheless, had some distinctive features. For example, leprosy was a group of skin diseases, the symptoms of which were peeling of the skin, dryness and thickening of the epidermis, itching. In the current definition of the disease psoriasis, the history of which is still not fully written, such symptoms only indirectly remind of the characteristic signs of psoriasis. As for the term ” psora “, which was used by both Plato and Herodotus to denote a group of skin diseases with similar symptoms, they also called diseases manifested through peeling, dryness and itching of the skin.  

For the first time, the term “psoriasis” was used in ancient Greece to denote manifestations in the form of scaly localized changes in the skin, accompanied by severe itching. However, the clinical picture of psoriasis of that time was absolutely not similar to the psoriasis that we know now.

Studying ancient chronicles, one can make the assumption that the term psoriasis was sometimes used to refer to completely different diseases. It was mistaken for scabies, leprosy, vitiligo. Very often, patients suffering from similar diseases were denied medical assistance, they were placed away from healthy people, on a kind of reservations, forced to wear special clothes or bells that warned everyone else about the approach of the patient. Such methods, in part, were justified, since in the Middle Ages there were more than enough dangerous infectious diseases for the treatment of which a remedy had not yet been found.

Before the present

And only a few hundred years later, at the beginning of the 19th century, the concept of “psoriasis” as a separately designated disease took on clear outlines. For the first time, scientists from the UK described the symptoms and manifestations of psoriasis, the stages of its development and possible complications. They differentiated leprosy from psoriasis, various fungal lesions of the skin, described the usual and unusual course of the disease (lesions of the palms, soles, joints, nails, etc.). Later, British researchers established a connection between disorders in the functioning of the nervous system, as well as various diseases of internal organs, and the occurrence of psoriasis.

Relatively recently, in the early to mid-20th century, more accurate information about the nature of psoriasis was obtained. In particular, the relationship between the disease and metabolic disorders, the influence of viral diseases on the occurrence of psoriasis, and weak immunity was established. In addition, a hereditary predisposition factor for this disease was established. In the aggregate of the established facts, they began to talk about psoriasis not just as a disease that affects the skin, but as a systemic disease that affects various tissues and organs of the human body.

The history of studying the causes of psoriasis, the mechanisms of its development and methods of treatment does not end there. Nowadays, in many countries of the world, active research is being carried out aimed at finding means and methods for a complete cure for psoriasis. But, unfortunately, scientists have not yet come to any positive results.

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