For Malaysians, the word ‘Merdeka’ holds a special meaning as it symbolises the country’s independence from colonization, 63 years ago on the 31 August 1957. However, for Psoriasis patients like Aliff, as much as he is proud to celebrate his country’s independence, part of him still feels trapped. See, Aliff has Psoriasis and he is unable to break free from it.Aliff, 30, has been a Psoriasis fighter for the past 12 years. When he was first diagnosed by his doctor, he felt lost and confused. He never thought that a skin condition would impact him not only physically, but emotionally as well.
Growing up, Aliff has encountered various social stigmas because of his skin. One experience that he cannot forget, was when he was at a bank and filling up some forms, a person walked up to him and asked if his skin condition was due to his lack of proper hygiene.
“It made me feel so embarrassed and uncomfortable, I had to walk away. I know it is normal for someone to be curious, but that experience made me feel like I was accused of not taking care of my own body,” he said.
Despite support from close friends and family members, Aliff cannot escape the eyes of the public, who would stare at the patches on his face and arms, forcing him to hide under thick layers of clothing. Imagine, with the tropical Malaysian weather, hiding under those layers can be suffocating, but for Aliff, he feels it is necessary so that people would not view him differently.
Hiding under all those layers of clothes also helps Aliff socialize with people as there are some who avoid standing too close to him, in fear of his Psoriasis being contagious. In fact, Psoriasis is not a contagious disease as it is not caused by contagious bacteria or infections, however it is due to the patient’s autoimmune system getting out of control1.
Aliff shared that he recently found out that Psoriasis patients have the increased risk of developing other comorbidities as well such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, psoriatic arthritis, and others. “I never knew that it had such a serious impact, I always thought that it was just a skin condition.” he exclaimed. Learning this has elevated his fears of living with his condition, which further makes him feel trapped by his condition.
He shares that in order to break free from it, he has to start taking action to treat his condition. However, he believes that support is crucial for a Psoriasis patient to get through this.
While Aliff does have the support of his friends and family, he feels that psoriasis patients should also come out and voice their concerns. “We need to be united in our fight against Psoriasis and with the support of the public and private sectors, we can definitely overcome it,” he claims.
“After all, that was what our forefathers did in the past to gain independence for us, the future generations. As Malaysians, let us stand up together and support one another, even if we look different on the outside. I know with your support, Psoriasis patients in Malaysia can definitely look forward to shouting Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! from our skin,” he concludes.
According to the national psoriasis registry of Malaysia, a total of 21,370 psoriasis patients were registered between 2007 and 20182. However, these are just the numbers of psoriasis patients that seek for treatment and were registered in the national psoriasis registry. In fact, there is still a substantial amount of psoriasis patients who may be unaware of the true nature of their condition and have yet to seek treatment.
If you have signs and symptoms that may indicate that it is Psoriasis, consult your nearest doctor to diagnose your condition and receive treatment early before the condition becomes further complicated.
1 Is Psoriasis Contagious? Causes, Triggers, and Diagnosis. Healthline. (2020). Retrieved 6 August 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/is-psoriasis-contagious.
2 Robinson, S., Thevarajah, S., Tang, M., Tey, K., Teoh, T., & Tang, J. et al. (2020). The disease burden and biologics usage among patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis: a 12 year Malaysian registry review (2007 – 2018).