Wacky Facts You Never Knew About Psoriasis

Psoriasis Sufferers Were Shunned From Society in Biblical Times

Psoriasis may have been one of the skin conditions called “tzaarat” in the Old Testament. A common belief of the time was that people with a skin disease had brought it upon themselves. Thanks to popular misconceptions back in the day — including that it was contagious — many with psoriasis were ostracized from society. Some were even burned at the stake.

The Word Psoriasis Used to Mean Something Else

In 200 B.C., the Greek physician Galen coined the term psoriasis, derived from the Greek word “psora” (to itch). But the condition he was talking about — scaly skin on the eyelids and scrotum — was what we now call seborrheic dermatitis. We didn’t get the first accurate definition of psoriasis as it’s known today until much later — the 1800s, in fact — when Robert Willan (pictured), the English physician considered to be the founder of modern dermatology, described it as circular or oval skin lesions topped with dry scales and surrounded by a red border.

Ancient Text Says Urine Was One of the First Treatments

There are plenty of psoriasis remedies you can try to calm your irritation, like tea tree oil, turmeric, or fish oil. But one of the first known therapies happens to be the weirdest: Documented in the ancient text known as the Ebers papyrus, one of the earliest treatment options involved a bizarre concoction of onions, sea salt, and urine.

Hippocrates Used Pine Tar To Treat Psoriasis

You’ve no doubt seen pine tar in the news, such as when New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda used it to get a better grip on the baseball — and was subsequently suspended for 10 games (although players are allowed to use pine tar on their bats). But did you know that pine tar, a sticky substance produced from pine wood, was found to soothe psoriasis symptoms? Hippocrates (pictured), the founder of modern medicine, used it to treat psoriasis in the 5th century B.C., and you can still find soaps containing pine tar to treat skin irritation to this day.

Your Kitty Could Give You Psoriasis

In 1872, Heinrich Koebner, a German dermatologist, made a major discovery about psoriasis when he noticed that skin that had recently been damaged by animal bites, tattoos, or other traumas were more likely to develop psoriasis lesions. Today, we call this the Koebner phenomenon.

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