Psoriasis: an embarrassing and painful illness

For most people, psoriasis appears on their elbows, knees, scalp and back. So it would be just my luck that it appeared on my face, and not just n a small area but all over on my cheeks, between my eyebrows and all over my scalp. It started when I was around 16 and has gradually got worse over time. As I write this article, it’s now spread to the backs of my hands and my lower arms.

I’ve tried all manner of treatments from my GP and over the counter. These have included Oilatum, camomile, calendula, olive oil, T Gel, prescription coal tar, Diprobase, apple cider vinegar and betamethasone. Some of these treatments have worked to help reduce the scaly skin but none of them have cured it.


Psoriasis: an embarrassing and painful illness

Psoriasis on the elbows
Psoriasis on the elbows can be very painful

For those lucky few, psoriasis gives little problem. For people like me it can become and embarrassing and painful illness. I often have scales and red blotching on my face, with skin that can be seen visibly flaking off. Skin can become tight, inflamed and sore. Dandruff is a daily problem and skin scales are often very large. Lately, I’ve developed painful elbows when the scales are also very large and hard and because I use a keyboard, painful to rest on the desk. My family and colleagues regularly comment on it and it makes me shy away from certain social situations.


What causes Psoriasis?

The exact cause of Psoriasis is unknown, but it’s believed to be a problem with the immune system. Skin cells are attacked and the skin is thinned. This can result is the skin being easily broken.

For some people, environmental and health factors cam make symptoms worse. In my case, tiredness, stress and illness make my face resemble a burnt cucumber. I also seem to struggling in the colder months going between warm buildings and the cold outdoors.


Living with Psoriasis

A a good day living with Psoriasis is manageable. On a bad day it’s a nightmare. Wearing dark clothes is usually impossible due to the skin which can fall onto clothing. Hats can cause sweat which irritate the scalp. Even wearing glasses can irritate the skin behind the ears and on the nose. On the occasional days I have to wear as suit I dread it; constantly checking for flakes of skin on my jacket and trousers.

During the day, I tend to lather on natural moisturisers. The product I’m using at the moment is Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter which is a mix of olive oil and camomile. Sadly, I suspect this product will soon stop working and I’ll be left to find something new.


Avoid sodium laureth sulphate if you suffer from psoriasis

Speak to most sufferers of psoriasis and they’ll tell you you should avoid any products with sodium laureth sulphate in them, which is a known irritant to human skin and contained in a great deal of shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and cosmetics. When I use such products I can literally feel my skin burning and it can takes days (and sometimes weeks) for my skin to improve.


My GP has been less than helpful in finding a treatment

It’s a sad fact that GP’s are under pressure to treat people with serious illnesses. As a result, I’ve always been fobbed off with a prescription for another cream or bath potion. I can’t really blame my GP (who is under pressure to deal with as many problems as possible) but I do think there is more that can be done to help me.

So on that note, I’m going to return to my GP and be more assertive. I’d like to try some of the more  ‘serious’ treatments such as oral/injected medication and I’ve heard some positive news recently about phototherapy. I’ll be sure to report back once I’ve taken the next step.


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