Saturday, 11 September 2010

From a Psoriasis Sufferer

I have psoriasis. On my hands it's pretty bad. Today for example, I have patches of dry on the heel of my hands and around the base of my thumbs, flaking skin, a few small areas where the skin is cracking, and over 100 tiny 'blisters' that are either itchy or painful depending on where they are (underneath a fingernail is worst!). I also have a patch on my scalp about the size of a dime or a 5p piece that is somewhat like a  really bad case of dandruff. In the past I've had the scalp spot be around the size of a quarter or 10p piece and just assuming it was dandruf, scrubbed my scalp really hard with a succession of different dandruff treatments, only to end up with a bald spot (luckily it was easy enough to hide until the hair grew back but it did look rather strange having 'tufty' bits of hair atop my head when the rest is 3/4 way down my back).

Psoriasis looks awful, and if I'm being honest, had I seen it on someone else's hands, not knowing what it was, I would be more than slightly grossed out. It certainly looks as if it 'could' be some nasty, contagious disease and so I fully expect other people to be grossed out by it unless they have encountered it themelves.

Some psoriasis facts:

Firstly, no matter how bad psoriasis looks, it is not infectious. You cannot 'catch' it by touching affected skin.

It's caused by certain cells of the body's immune system becoming overactive and producing an inflammatory response.

The sclaes/plaques/blisters are caused by skin cells renewing themselves at an accelerated rate.

Any fluid within the blisters is actually sterile.

Although the medical profession maintains that psoriasis is neither caused nor triggered by stress, having suffered from it for almost two and a half years, I can tell you that stress most definately does cause psoriasis to flare up. (Let's face it, depression and stress can weaken the body's immune system and cause a whole host of other physical symptoms, so I will not believe that stress is unable to trigger/worsen psoriasis and quite frankly I resent being told that it's a 'ridiculous idea').

Psoriasis can affect any part of the body but the most commonly affected areas are the hands, feet, elbows and scalp.

Types of treatment:

Topical creams and ointments are the first 'go to'. These can be steroid based, vitamin analogues or coal tar preparations.

Phototherapy (UV treatment) is usually the first option if topical treatments are unsuccessful. But don't try it yourself!! Phototherapy uses a very specific, narrow UV spectrum for very controlled time periods and should only be done under medical supervision.

Systemic treatments (tablets in this case) can be prescribed by a dermatologist and most work by slowing down the rate, although cylcosporin is an immune suppressant that can also be used. Systemic treatments spread throughout the entire body and can cause a variety of side effects.

Biological injections differ from the systemic treatments in that they use naturally occuring proteins (hormones, inhibitors etc) and are targeted  specifically to the affected site.

I have personally tried half a dozen different topical treatments, most of which had no effect whatsoever. I was placed on a waiting list for UV treatment by my dermatologist back in April. Finally two weeks ago I got a telephone call that a spot had opened up. However, the treatment is given several days per week over a period of 10 weeks and as I was supposed to be going to the USA for 2-3 months, I had to ask to be bumped farther down the waiting list. Now it would appear that I'm NOT going to America at all (because being practical and worrying about certain, very real and impotrant issues means that I'm not enthusiastic enough and therefore not wanted - * lots of expletives about hipocrisy & double standards removed *) but I'm going to have to wait until at least December to start the treatment now - thanks!

Whenever I blog, I try to include some relevant products from zazzle in the post; partly to illustrate my post and partly in the hope of earning a small referral fee (don't worry, the fee isn't added onto the price of the prducts, you pay the same whether the sale is referred or not). However, writing this post I really didn't think there would be anything suitable. There are many 'cause' products on zazzle, but since psoriasis isn't life-threatening and often considered nothing more than an inconvenience, I didn't think that it would make it onto the zazzle radar. WRONG. There are actually 1,826 zazzle products tagged with 'psoriasis'. Even then, I don't like promoting 'awareness' products because some storekeepers either do not donate a single penny to the cause they are profiting from (grr!!), or have no way to guarantee to customers that they DO donate. On this occassion however, I found that the National Psoriasis Foundation (a genuine non-profit organisation) actually have their own official zazzle store. Their main website can be found here, packed full of information, and their zazzle store here. Another point that is encouraging about the NPF is that they acknowledge a link between psoriasis and stress, something which finally makes me feel somewhat vindicated!!

No comments: