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Measuring Psoriasis Severity: Why Does it Matter?

Aldredge, Lakshi M.

Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association: September/October 2014 - Volume 6 - Issue 5 - p 252–256
doi: 10.1097/JDN.0000000000000066

ABSTRACT Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes significant physical and emotional burden for the patient who experiences the disease. For dermatology care providers, it poses numerous challenges including determining the severity of the disease and its impact on the patient. Understanding psoriasis disease severity is important to provide appropriate treatment modalities and to educate patients about their risk for significant comorbidities. Determining psoriasis severity also becomes important when one is participating or reviewing psoriasis clinical trials, attempting to obtain Food and Drug Administration approval for psoriasis treatments, or when obtaining health insurance reimbursement. Despite the importance and usefulness of determining psoriasis disease severity, there is no widely accepted standard or tool that is used to determine psoriasis disease severity. This article provides a review of the most common tools and methodologies used to determine psoriasis severity and discusses the potential positive impact that severity categorization may have on the patient’s disease management. Documenting psoriasis severity is important for the patient in that it may enable the patient to qualify for important clinical trial studies. It may also enable the patient to obtain much-needed therapies through insurance companies, many of whom require disease severity categorization to approve payment for these often costly medications. In addition, categorizing and documenting the severity of psoriasis can be meaningful for the provider in that it provides a framework to indicate improvement (or lack thereof) of currently prescribed therapies.

Lakshi M. Aldredge, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lakshi M. Aldredge, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, Portland VA Medical Center, 3710 SW U.S. Veterans Hospital Rd., Portland, OR 97239. E-mail:

Copyright © 2014 by the Dermatology Nurses' Association.