What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It is caused by a new type of coronavirus known as SARS-COV-2. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.
How is it spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from other people who have the virus (human-to-human transmission) through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Others then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in the droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This usually happens at a distance of 1 meter or less.
The WHO is assessing the transmission routes of COVID-19, and updating its conclusions. For the latest findings visit: https://bit.ly/3fzqJ1L
Am I at higher risk of catching COVID-19 if I have psoriasis?
There is currently no evidence that people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis are any more or less likely to catch COVID-19. You should follow the same precautions recommended by the World Health Organization and your local health authorities to protect yourself and others.
Does taking an immunosuppressant medication for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis make me more vulnerable?
Clinicians and psoriasis care providers are aware of the concerns about COVID-19 and treatment. The current available advice takes special consideration for people living with Pso/PsA on biologics who are confirmed to have COVID-19. Individual risk can vary and should be assessed by your health care provider. Factors include which systemic medications you are taking, whether you are taking more than one of these medications, and whether you are living with co-morbidities or other medical issues. If you have questions about your treatment, contact your care provider. Whenever possible, use the phone or another telehealth tool to access health services from a distance to reduce the risk of infection. (8)
At this time, we do not advise that you make any changes to your treatment as a preventative measure or without consulting your prescriber. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 (such as fever, persistent coughing, loss of smell and taste, or other common symptoms), consult your psoriasis care provider to discuss whether or not you should continue your systemic treatment.
Please see the International Psoriasis Council guidance to clinicians which is in accordance with established treatment guidelines and advises clinicians to stop biologic therapy for people living with Pso/PsA confirmed to have COVID-19 (2–4).
What is the latest advice on the use of masks?
WHO provides excellent advice on masks. Masks should be worn as part of a comprehensive strategy to limit spread of COVID-19. However, use of masks should be coupled with other preventive measures such a physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding touching of face and mask. There are two types of masks. Medical masks are used by:
- by health workers,
- persons with symptoms of COVID-19
- people caring for those confirmed to have COVID-19 or those at risk
Non-medical fabric masks are used by many people in public areas. WHO is encouraging the general public to use non-medical fabric masks where physical distancing cannot be achieved. On June 5th WHO provided the latest updated guidance in different languages. Visit: https://bit.ly/3fxQhMF
When should I be tested for COVID-19?
The situation is different for every context. Current advice for testing depends on the stage of the outbreak in the country or area where you live. Testing approaches will be adapted to the situation at national and local level. Stay up to date with your national/ local health authorities testing approach.
What about handwashing? How do I correctly wash my hands?
It is recommended to wash hands using soap and water very thoroughly. This may be difficult but the dermatology association recommends it as a practical approach(2). Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
To learn more about handwashing, visit the World Health Organization’s website on clean hands protection against infection.
For great tips on washing hands with sensitive skin, watch the video from the Psoriasis and Eczema Association of Norway!
Why is it important to discuss your treatment and healthcare concerns with your Dermatologist / Psoriasis Health Care Provider?
- In discussion with your provider you share concerns with regards to treatment.
- Your dermatologist is aware of the current developments and advice on effects of COVID-19 from their guidelines on care & treatment of people living with Pso and/or PsA.
- When you do contact your healthcare provider, it is best to use the phone or another telehealth solution whenever possible to reduce the risk of infection. Ask your healthcare provider for suggestions when you book your appointment.
Is it necessary to contact my healthcare provider for all concerns?
Contact your healthcare provider with any urgent questions. Health systems are experiencing a high load right now, and as the situation progresses remember that your dermatologist may also be seeing other members of the psoriasis community who are in need of immediate care. Contact your healthcare provider only when necessary with specific questions. One way to support the medical community is to practice the simple measures of prevention to keep yourself safe. Remember to take advantage of phone appointments and other telehealth solutions whenever possible to reduce the risk of infection.
What can I do to protect myself?
Stay aware of the latest information. In line with the general public health guidance regarding COVID-19, we continue to encourage you to refer to your local health authorities following guidance from WHO (CDC) (5–7). Follow the DO THE FIVE CAMPAIGN launched by WHO.
Remember to do the FIVE:
1) HANDS: Wash them often with soap
2) ELBOW: Cough or sneeze into elbow if you must
3) FACE: Do not touch your face, mouth or eyes
4) SPACE: Practice “social distancing” by keeping a safe distance more than one meter (3ft) apart.
5) HOME: Are you sick? Are any of your family members sick? If you can, please stay home and call your healthcare provider. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider as well as your dermatologist via telephone.
Do the co-morbidities associated with psoriasis worsen outcomes of COVID-19?
Current advice from the International Psoriasis Council, European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, and Skin Inflammation & Psoriasis International Network recognize that individuals aged 60 years and older as well as people living with certain psoriasis co-morbidities – diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, asthma, hepatitis B, chronic kidney diseases, and cancer and obesity – have a higher risk of complication if infected by SARS-CoV-2 (1,2). Links to more information on this subject are upcoming.
Should I be vaccinated against COVID-19?
The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is cause for optimism. For people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, vaccines may also raise questions. Click here to review IFPA’s full advice about vaccines.