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This year marks my 10 year journey with psoriasis! Now, I am 100% comfortable with my skin and accept it as a part of me that makes me unique – however, at the young age of 13 when I was diagnosed, I was terrified. I knew no one with psoriasis and left the dermatologist feeling confused, alone and like an outsider.
Here are 10 things that I have learnt over my 10 year psoriasis journey:
1 – You are not alone, around 125 million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis!
Many people have heard of or experienced over their lifetime either eczema, acne or dandruff but psoriasis as a subject of conversation is rather unheard of. In recent times, however, more celebrities than ever have opened up about suffering with psoriasis, proving that psoriasis can affect anyone but it doesn’t have to stop you from living your life and accomplishing your dreams!
2 – People will tell you about miracle working creams or amazing diets that cured their psoriasis or skin conditions. My advice - take it with a pinch of salt.
“I’m so itchy, its driving me mad!” “Oh, is it eczema?” “No its psoriasis!” “What’s that?” “It’s a skin condition that causes my skin to develop too fast forming plaques on my skin which is sometimes itchy-” “OH MY GOSH, you NEED to try this cream, it’s amazing!” – a typical conversation I have at least 3 times a week!
Most people assume what has worked for them will work for everybody. This is not the case. It took me over 6 years to find what worked to help maintain my happy skin, and near enough everyone I met told me to try a different cream or diet! I’ve heard it all! I was tearing my hair out trying to find something to ease my psoriasis. I have had to trial and error different things over the last 10 years with the help of my doctor, although it is irritating, it has been important in finding what works for me. Hopefully you already know what works for you in which case, CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve hit the jackpot!
3 – Be open with your doctor and dermatologist – they are there to help YOU!
Leading on from trying to find something that works for you; at the end of the day, your GP and dermatologist are the number 1 people you need to be honest with about your skin, besides yourself. If something isn’t working or isn't agreeing with you, tell your dermatologist. If you aren’t taking your medication consistently or forgetting to have your blood tests, be honest with your dermatologist, they can only help you based on what you tell them! Listen to them and always follow their advice. Always tell them what’s going on with your skin, and don’t be afraid to show them. Remember, they’ve seen it all before!!
4 – MOISTURISER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. PERIOD.
I CANNOT stress this enough. MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE! When your skin is feeling dry, slap on some good quality moisturiser/emollient! After trying what felt like 500 different products I realised what worked for my skin. I like something that is fast drying and doesn’t leave me feeling greasy afterwards but I can still feel the benefits of hours after applying. I also find it beneficial to moisturise after bathing to lock in the moisture and stop my psoriasis feeling tight afterwards.
5 – Find a skincare regime that works for you.
I could list 100 things you could do to treat your skin everyday, but in reality, no one has 4 hours to do an elaborate skincare regime each day. Find something that suits you and your schedule.
For me, I exfoliate in the morning every day on my face as that’s where my psoriasis gets the worst for overnight flake and exfoliate every other day on my body when in the shower. I use a hydrating gel in the morning after exfoliating then before my makeup I use a good hydrating primer. In the day, I keep a little hydration spray in my handbag for when my skins feeling tight on my face – it is my favourite thing in my makeup bag as it doesn’t affect how my makeup looks but makes such a difference to how my skin feels! Then before bed, I remove my makeup using a cleansing balm to gently melt away my makeup and apply a moisturising night mask so I wake up feeling beautiful! I’d say once a week I use a face mask whilst in the bath surrounded by candles to relax and unwind!
Make sure when trying to find a skincare regime that works for you, that you are doing so with the help of your doctor.
6 – Your overall mood affects your skin more than you think!
When my dermatologist told me that psoriasis flares can often be triggered by stress, I thought it was a load of rubbish. How could my skin get worse by my mood? Turns out she was so right! Whenever I feel stressed, my psoriasis instantly flares up. And just before I start my period my skin goes wild! It can feel like an endless cycle of feeling stressed, then your skin gets worse, then you get stressed about your skin meaning it’s going to get even worse! You see my point.. which is why once a week I make a point of having a relaxing evening with my candles. Taking some time out to give yourself some ‘me time’ is SO important for your overall wellbeing. Cut yourself off from the world for an evening and treat yourself. Your mind, body and skin will thank you for it, I promise!
7 – Psoriasis can occur anywhere on your body.. and I mean anywhere…
Although my psoriasis started on my scalp, it spread to different areas all over my body within 2 years and I was shocked at this! I assumed that it wouldn’t spread to areas like the inside of my ears or around my eyes, or even around intimate areas, but it is totally normal! And as I mentioned before, your dermatologist has seen it all before so don’t feel afraid or embarrassed to speak up and show them where your psoriasis is.
8 – Don’t shy away from wearing the clothes you want to wear because of your psoriasis showing!
For years I avoided swimming, going to the beach, changing in front of people, wearing plain dark clothing, wearing my hair up and wearing clothes which exposed my skin! Looking back, I know why I did it – I was nervous about that others would look at my skin and think I was different. Whereas in reality, most people are too absorbed in their own lives to notice a patch of skin on someone else. And if they do, smile and explain what it is – enlighten them to the world of psoriasis! There’s always going to be that one person who looks but I say ignore them. Rock your skin! Show them your best side and smile.
Credit: Author, Poppy Challinor @thegirlwithpsoriasis
Recently the weather has been lovely so I decided to take a trip into town to go shopping by myself. I was wearing a short-sleeved top and ¾ culottes so my arms and a little of my legs were exposed. My psoriasis covers the whole of my body but I accept and love my skin so I wasn’t bothered if people noticed! Whilst makeup shopping, a lady shouted at me “Is that chicken pox? You shouldn’t be out in public with chicken pox! There are children and people around! I never had chicken pox, now I might catch it because of you!!” I smiled and explained what it actually was. She looked rather embarrassed at the scene she had caused and walked away promptly. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed for her lack of knowledge and how quick she was to judge me and my skin. Soon after another lady came over to me and said she had seen what happened and explained her aunty also has psoriasis! Instantly, I forgot about the previous 5 minute awkwardness and felt so much better!
9 – Opening up to people about psoriasis can be a tricky subject, but it’s definitely worth sharing your stories!
When I started university, I was dreading telling people about my skin incase they treated me differently. My face was covered with psoriasis plaques as was 80% of my body. I knew they’d notice it, and felt awkward knowing I’d have to explain what it is to my new friends. When I caught one of my new friends looking at my skin peeking out of my jumper, I plucked up the courage to explain my psoriasis. All of them were so understanding and asked me questions about my skin. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders! My friends, family and boyfriend now regularly ask me about how my skin is and even dust the flakes off my shoulders. Surround yourself with people who love and accept you for you, and they’ll no longer notice your skin.
10 – Get yourself online and join our wonderful community!!
Blogs, YouTube and Instagram accounts dedicated to psoriasis have become so popular within the last few years. It’s an amazing way for us to share our stories and experiences with one another as well as share our tips and advice. I have become such good friends with people from our psoriasis community just from chatting about our skin online. It’s so wonderful to see others talking about their skin and owning the skin they’re in! It made me realise I truly wasn’t alone with my psoriasis. I never realised how many people had the same experiences with their skin as me! When I’m having a down day about my psoriasis I check on Instagram to see people’s comments and images and feel so much better. Sharing my stories about my psoriasis helped me love my skin and I never thought 10 years ago I would be sharing stories and images of my psoriasis online for the world to see, but here I am and it feels GREAT!
UK/IE MAT-26780. Date of preparation: July 2019.
Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.