Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition affecting the 3% of the world population in which skin cells grow abnormally fast. This happens because the body's immune system is sending out faulty signals that speed up the skin growth, and instead of the usual 28–30 days needed for renewal of skin cells, skin cells in psoriasis are replaced every 3–5 days.
Besides the overgrowth of skin cells, inflammatory symptoms are also a characteristic feature of psoriasis. These symptoms can vary from very mild with occasional scaly skin and itching to more severe physical complaints, such as psoriatic arthritis which affects joints in about 20% of people with psoriasis.
Psoriasis can occur at any age, but in most patients, the disease develops between the ages of 20 and 30. There's no cure for psoriasis. Also, it's not contagious.
The exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown, which makes it a complex disease. Some of the possible causes include genetic, immunological, environmental and mental factors that all may play a role in developing psoriasis.
Living with psoriasis isn't always easy for patients, as well as their families, both emotionally and financially. It is also is associated with a major additional psychological burden, namely because of the social stigma toward psoriasis patients that could lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Limiting stress in patients life can have a significant impact on helping patients live better with psoriasis. Some other techniques besides reducing stress include following treatment plans, as well as finding ways to curb flare-ups and avoid triggers.
People suffering from chronic conditions, including psoriasis, are recommended to keep track of their condition every day in order to manage it more efficiently. This can be done by using diaries, or more commonly, by using tracker apps for smartphones and mobile devices.
My Psoriasis or MyPso app is one of those trackers that help people with psoriasis record, monitor, and track their symptoms, physiological changes, and triggers to better manage their condition. It is a free app available for download for Android and iOS devices.
Upon opening the app, users will be asked to set up their preferences, i.e. the psoriasis symptoms they want to track and their gender. Note that the first use of the app requires an Internet connection, which isn't needed again.
Symptoms include itching, pain, inflammation, dryness, scaling, stress, and social discomfort. Users can choose one particular symptom, multiple symptoms, or all listed. As you could see, the symptoms don't include joint pain, but I guess it could be addressed as a general pain and inflammation.
In the next step, users are asked to set reminders for tracking their symptoms, i.e. when, how often, and for how long they want to track their psoriasis, as well as reminders for the therapy.
However, it's only possible to set the time of the reminder, but not the frequency. I believe this is some sort of glitch because there's a question 'How often do you want to be reminded?' on the screen, however you can't scroll down to view its settings. You can only set time to be reminded once a day.
This is troublesome, particularly for tracking therapy, because some of the medications have to be taken more than once a day or there could be multiple medications to take.
After setting things up, the app takes you to the main screen with several options at the bottom, including Me, Community, Track, My Photos, and LEO Quality Care.
The most important feature is, of course, Track that users can use to record their symptoms and triggers, as well as to add photos of their skin.
Tracking is quite simple. Users are presented with the list of all symptoms that they've decided to track with a numerical scale (0 to 4) used to describe the severity of a symptom.
The app then asks the question about therapy, i.e. if the users are taking their medications, with three possible answers: "Yes, most of the time," "No, not every time," and "I don't use medications."
After answering the question users are asked to explain what is stopping them from taking their medication according to their treatment plan, offering several options that users can choose from, including medications are not helping, user forgot to take them, side effects, and more.
Similarly, users can choose triggers that can cause flare-ups or aggravate psoriasis symptoms. These include alcohol, tobacco, stress, food, and more. I've noticed that psychological triggers are somewhat underdeveloped. There's only stress listed, but it's not the only mental and emotional culprit that may affect psoriasis.
Finally, users can add photos from their device's gallery or by using the phone's camera and add them to one of the albums that may contain images for a particular body part.
This is done in a quite intuitive manner. Users are presented with an image of the human body that can be rotated to reveal a view from a back. There are focal points distributed all across the body that users can tap on to add photos in a particular album.
For example, if you tap on an elbow or a knee on an image, you'd be able to add photos of your elbow or knee skin in their respective albums. This is a really good way of tracking your symptoms and flare-ups visually over time.
My Psoriasis app provides various hints, for example on how scratching wounded skin that itch may hinder healing. These hints links to developer's website, i.e. LEO Pharma that can be opened in the app.
All tracked data is shown on the graphs and can be generated as PDF report for 2 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year. The graphs use circles and dots system to indicate medication use, i.e. full circle if medication is taken, empty circle if it's not, and dot if the user is not on medication (not required). There are also triangles used to indicate triggers detected.
My Psoriasis app allows users to compare their symptoms and triggers with those of other users in the Community section, and view percentage of particular symptoms and triggers between the user and the community.
The last section named LEO Quality Care provides users with personalized content, including articles and tips to help them better manage their condition. This content is available on LEO Pharma website that opens inside the app.
The app developers stated that the user data is anonymously shared with companies involved in improving the MyPsoriasis app, and processed only for statistical purposes. Still, this could raise privacy concerns for some users
Overall, My Psoriasis app is a useful tracker for all people who are suffering from psoriasis to record and monitor their symptoms and triggers. Of course, there's a room for improvement, particularly regarding adding more depth to symptoms and triggers, i.e. more practical examples of how certain triggers affect psoriasis symptoms.
Benefit: Everyone who is suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis could benefit from this app