IFPA 50 Years

01 June 2021


We have much to celebrate!

For the last 50 years, IFPA has been at the forefront of the fight against psoriatic disease, improving the lives of millions of affected people and raising the profile of psoriatic disease on the global agenda.



IFPA comprises 61 member organizations in 54 countries and represents the voice of more than 60 million people around the globe living with psoriatic disease.

Virtual 6th World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “CONNECTED, INFORMED and UNITED to improve multidisciplinary care for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis”, with 800+ delegates from 65+ countries.


5th World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “Psoriasis – Science and Patients: Global Challenges and Future Perspectives”, with 1,200+ delegates from 70+ countries.


World Health Organization (WHO) Global Report on Psoriasis is published

IFPA initiates a collaboration with International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) and the International Psoriasis Council (IPC) to launch the Global Psoriasis Atlas


4th World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “Psoriasis – new insights and innovations”, with 1,200+ delegates from 70 countries.


IFPA has 53 national member associations.

WHO Resolution on Psoriasis is passed unanimously on May 24th


3rd World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “Psoriasis – a global health challenge”, with 1,200 delegates from 67 countries.


2nd World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “Skin and beyond”, with 1,000 delegates from 66 countries.


IFPA arranges the 1st World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference “A global perspective” - in Stockholm, Sweden with 650 delegates from 47 countries.


IFPA has 24 national member associations.


The first World Psoriasis Day is celebrated to raise awareness about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis


Biologic therapies, or “biologics,” are first introduced for the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Biologics are a type of protein-based systemic drug that work by blocking the action of a specific immune cell, called the T-cell, as well as certain proteins in the immune system, like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, as these both play a role in the development of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Unlike prior treatments, biologics are taken via injection or through IV infusion. This is a huge turning point as some physicians start to see complete clearance in their psoriasis patients, rather than just improvement.


Research about the involvement of genes and family history of psoriasis is conducted in the 1990s in the Human Genome Project, which identifies several genes associated with the disease.


IFPA falls on hard times. Finances are strained, and at the IFPA General Assembly in Copenhagen the decision is made to maintain a lower profile for the next two years. The organization will concentrate activities on supporting the formation and development of more national member organizations and broaden the income base through sponsorship agreements with different types of stakeholders. Gösta Karlsson retires and Lars Ettarp is elected president.


The success of the Gothenburg Symposium leads to IFPA being invited by Stanford University in California to participate in their 1986 Psoriasis Symposium. At the symposium, IFPA arranges a program of lecturers from IFPA representatives in USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.


IFPA, in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish Psoriasis Association, arranges a large international symposium to bring together researchers and other dermatologists who have a special interest in the psoriatic disease with patient representatives. The purpose is to comprehensively shed light on the research situation, care options and living conditions. The symposium is named PSO-CARE. It brings together over 320 participants from 37 countries.


IFPA’s 2nd General Assembly is held in Denmark, with nine national associations present, adopting the first official IFPA constitution.


IFPA’s 1st General Assembly with election of first board of directors. Gösta Karlsson is elected president. The Swedish association manages the administration for IFPA from start until 1984.

Researchers John M. Moll and Verna Wright—the latter being a rheumatologist — study the association between psoriasis and arthritis rigorously, and eventually publish a paper called “Psoriatic Arthritis,” which details their knowledge of the disease and has since been cited thousands of times. This paper is a major milestone in the history of psoriasis as it specifically describes the characteristics and uniqueness of psoriatic arthritis. It also helps distinguish the disease from rheumatoid arthritis.


IFPA (originally International Federation of Psoriasis Associations) is founded in Sweden by representatives from the Nordic countries and the UK. First agreement/decision is to primarily focus on information, research, climate therapy/care and of course the need for better international cooperation.

In Denmark, Danmarks Psoriasis Forening, is founded by a small group of patients with psoriasis meeting at Rigshospitalet.


The Psoriasis Association in United Kingdom is founded in 1968 by Dr. Dick Coles – a Consultant Dermatologist at Northampton General Hospital.


In Sweden, the patient organization Psoriasisförbundet is founded by Gösta Karlsson. He was helpful in starting Psoriasis organizations in mainly the Nordic countries, but also had steady contacts with a number of other countries.


In Norway, the first organization for patients with psoriasis is founded, Psoriasis called og Eksemforbundet.


It is not until the 1960s that psoriasis begins to be considered an autoimmune condition, caused by the body’s own immune and inflammatory response mechanism. Rapidly evolving research about the pathology of psoriasis leads to the discovery and development of targeted treatments for the condition.

Phototherapy—specifically ultraviolet B, which is present in natural sunlight—is found to be an effective approach to treating psoriasis, as it slows the growth of affected skin cells. Systemic medications, which work inside the body by attacking the physiological processes that cause psoriasis, are also introduced. These treatments are used dependent upon the degree of severity, how much of the body is covered, and whether patients have responded to topicals.


Topical corticosteroids become the first staple treatment for psoriasis, as physicians find that their anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial in alleviating symptoms. The long-term risks are not been identified at this point, and dermatologists see significant success in patients who try the therapy .Folate inhibitors, like methotrexate, are also first introduced in the 50s and help response rates in disabling cases of psoriasis.


Goeckerman therapy, developed by American dermatologist William Goeckerman, involves combining coal tar with an early form of ultraviolet light phototherapy. The treatment is introduced as an alternative to long-term use of arsenic which causes toxicity in psoriasis patients and creates malignant tumors. Goeckerman therapy is widespread until the introduction of corticosteroids in the 1950s.

William H. Goeckerman (1884 – 1954) from: www.psoriasiscouncil.org/ publications/slide_library/66.


The first detailed description of psoriatic arthritis is written by Charles Bourdillon but interest in the disease subsequently lags for several decades. Basically, psoriatic arthritis is considered a form of rheumatoid arthritis.


French physician Pierre Bazin coins the term “psoriasis arthritique” or “arthritic psoriasis,” based on the work from Jean-Louis Alibert almost 50 years earlier.


Austrian Dr. Ferdinand von Hebra formally separates psoriasis from leprosy, by eliminating the association between the terms. In this time period, the use of tar and arsenic continues in the treatment of psoriasis, in addition to sunlight.

Picture from: Hebra’s Atlas der Hautkrankheiten (Atlas of Skin Diseases) by Viennese physician Ferdinand Ritter von Hebra. Illustration by Anton Elfinger. https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/skin-diseases/item/5663#?c=&m=&s=&cv=&xywh=-2993%2C-38%2C7378%2C1898


English Dr. Robert Willan is the first physician to distinguish psoriasis from other similar skin conditions.


French dermatologist Jean-Louis Alibert initiates a classification system for skin diseases according to characteristics about their cause, appearance, duration, course and response to treatment.

Before the 1300s

Beginning in BC and continuing for many centuries, psoriasis is confused with leprosy, leading the public to believe that psoriasis is contagious and causing tremendous social stigma. In France, for instance, the wrongly diagnosed receive the leprosy “treatments,” including social isolation, declaration of death by the Church. Starting in 1313, King - Philip the Fair orders people with leprosy (and people with psoriasis wrongly diagnosed with leprosy) to burn at the stake.

2000 BC - 200 AD

Evidence of psoriasis found in remains of Egyptian mummies. The Egyptians treat skin conditions like psoriasis with almost everything; cat and dog feces, goose oil, onions mixed with sea salt, and urine. Hippocrates is the first to describe psoriasis (as lepra, psora, alphos and leichen at the time), and it is one of the oldest known conditions in medical history. He recommends coal tar to increase sensitivity to sunlight, and topical arsenic as treatments. In that time, the disease is also described as impetigo that can appear on the skin of the extremities and nails. Galen is the first person to identify psoriasis as a health condition of the skin. He pens the terminology using the Greek word psora, which means “to itch.” In addition to the application of arsenic, he also recommends the application of a broth in which a viper had been boiled.