Today, famous Belgians, politicians, dermatologists and patients associations (from Belgium, France, Slovenia, Hungary and Poland) have come together as #teampsoriasis at Ixelles swimming pool to swim in support of people with psoriasis. The goal is to organise a swimming relay to convince us to leave our prejudices at the door. Famous Belgians – Sophie Nollevaux, Virginie Claes, Mademoiselle Luna, Ben Heine, Thomas Gunzig – start the swimming relay at 3 pm. There is a record to break: last year the Hungarians were the first Europeans to swim for this good cause.
A race by #teampsoriasis to beat the stigmas
The campaign poster sends a clear message: many people with psoriasis are still reluctant to take the plunge at pools for fear of others’ reactions. Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disease. When facing psoriasis plaques it’s needless to keep a distance.
"It needs to be said that dermatologists recommend that patients with psoriasis practice a gentle sport. Although not widely known, psoriasis is a systemic disease that exposes patients to a higher risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity. An ideal sport is thus swimming. Swimming a few lengths in a pool has a positive effect on the treatment of the disease and counters both stress and anxiety, which often reinforce the appearance of psoriasis plaques," clarifies Professor Lajos Kemeny of the Dermatology and Allergology Department at the University of Szeged in Hungary.
People think psoriasis is contagious because of its plaques. Some patients change their lifestyle and isolate themselves out of shame. Studies show that people with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety than the general population. For those patients, it is inconceivable that they would practice a sport in bare skin.
"We have noticed that in some European countries patients even have to undergo a medical examination before being allowed into a swimming pool. That is an abomination because psoriasis is an inflammatory and systemic disease, so it is – by definition – not contagious! In these countries there is a clear lack of knowledge about psoriasis. We absolutely have to spread accurate medical information in order to inform the general public and even the patients," explains Professor Myrto Trakatelli, dermatologist at the CHU Saint Pierre.
Accurate information on psoriasis needs to be contagious
The swimming relay organised by the dermatologists is a first and remarkable step towards a better understanding of the disease. “But the efforts should not stop there. So do not hesitate to join #teampsoriasis by visiting www.eadv.org or our Facebook page/EADV.org or by following us on Twitter @EADVderm. Do not hesitate to share with others: accurate information on psoriasis needs to be contagious!” adds Professor Myrto Trakatelli.
 EADV: European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology