Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Coping with a skin disorder | prettylittlewriter

Today I thought I'd share with you something I've had to live with for a few years now, and how it has affected me. I'm not doing this for sympathy, I just want you all to know my story and for anyone else that has struggled with the same thing, for you to know that you're not alone.

Psoriasis is a skin condition much like eczema, but worse in the way that it flakes off in chunks and forms huge hard plaques on your skin. It usually appears on joints, such as your knees and elbows, which were some of the first areas to appear on me. 
Psoriasis is usually triggered by stress, but it can also be passed on through generations. 
Psoriasis occurs because your skin is producing new skin cells 10 times faster than normal. A non-sufferer's skin cells shed and reproduce every 3 to 4 months, whereas those with the condition shed and reproduce in 3 to 7 days.
There are different types of psoriasis, and the type I have is called Plaque Psoriasis.
There is no cure for it, once it appears, you have it in your system for the rest of your life. There are treatments for it however, many of which I tried before I was finally given a drug called Methotrexate, a weaker form of the cancer drug given to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

I was 16 when it first appeared on my skin. I was going through a lot of stress at the time, from exams, to drama with friends and boys. 
A year or so before, I had a wart on my wrist which, once had gone, left a scar. This scar then turned into psoriasis. At first I had no idea what it was, I just thought it was eczema or a rash of some sort. But slowly it spread to my knees and my elbows, and then my scalp.

A couple of photos where you can see just how bad it was on my knees and elbows.

When it spread to my scalp, that was the worst part for me. I've always had lovely long, thick hair. Even when I had it cut short it was still amazingly thick.

with my parents for a family photoshoot; when my hair was long and thick.

 But the psoriasis built up so much in such thick plaques, that eventually my hair stopped growing and started falling out. I ended up with bald patches and every time I had a bath or a shower, huge clumps of hair came out.

Over the years, I've tried many different methods of treatment, from coal tar and steroid creams, to UV light treatment. Neither worked for me. I even resorted to trying home remedies recommended by other sufferers online, but to no avail. 

Having this skin condition made me feel very self-conscious and insecure about myself. People would stare at me when I bared any skin where I had psoriasis, and often people would bombard me with questions about it that I didn't want to answer. 
I've never said this out loud, but I became so ashamed of my body that I thought about suicide. I would never, ever be able to do that, no matter how crappy I felt, because I care about my family too much, but it didn't stop me from thinking about it. 
For this condition to appear in my teenage years, it was very emotional. Appearance is something that every teenager worries about, even though everyone knows personality is what matters, but to impressionable young people who are prone to bullying for the silliest reasons, appearance is important.

Psoriasis isn't usually a life threatening condition, however a very rare form of psoriasis can cause your body and organs to shut down as it becomes so inflamed and painful that your body just cannot cope. This is called Erythrodermic Psoriasis. Only 3% of psoriasis sufferers develop this form in their lives, and unfortunately, I was one of that 3%.
I developed this in my first year at University after stressing out over my first exam. At first it just looked like a rash; small, raised bumps all over my body. But after a couple of days it got incredibly worse to the point that it hurt to even lie in bed. 

This was my psoriasis at its worst.

I rushed home from University and went to the doctors. I was hoping that it would be something else, but to be told it was definitely psoriasis I was devastated. I was at an all time low; thinking I'd have to live with this on my body for the rest of my life. The doctor gave me a moisturising cream and a steroid cream to treat my psoriasis with, hoping it would calm it down. 
After the first night of using it, the pain had subsided and my skin wasn't as red raw. Then after about a week, my skin was back to normal. I couldn't have been happier with the results. If I hadn't gone to the doctors about it and just tried to treat it myself, it could have gotten a lot worse, and I don't even like to think about what could have happened to my health.

Now I am on Methotrexate, I have to go for regular blood tests to ensure my body is coping with the drug. I also have to take folic acid every day to combat the side effects of the methotrexate. It is a very dangerous drug if not taken correctly, so I have to take every precaution. I'm not even supposed to be taking this drug yet as you have to be over 21 usually, but because my psoriasis has been so severe and aggressive, the doctors decided it was the best method of treatment for my skin.
However, I have also gained another illness through taking this medication. I have been diagnosed as Vitamin B12 Deficient as the Methotrexate is taking away this vital Vitamin through how it works. I've been taking it for over a year now and we only established this about a month or so ago, and that was because I fainted when I was at work one day.
I've had a few B12 jabs to help and now I'm having to wait 3 months to see how my body is coping. 

Something else I have to deal with since I am on this medication is not drinking alcohol. Since the Methotrexate can damage your liver, drinking alcohol can make it even worse. A lot of people seem to think because I don't drink then I can't have any fun, so they don't bother inviting me to things. Alcohol isn't what allows me to have a good time, the people I'm with do. Don't think that just because I'm not getting drunk that I won't have fun, I can have just as much fun as you without it. 
Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely abstinent when it comes to alcohol, I'll have the occasional drink when I'm feeling particularly down and need a pick me up, but I try to steer clear of the stuff.

My psoriasis is now down to a minimum; I only have the small spot here and there, although it slowly tries to creep back so I have to apply some steroid cream to keep it at bay. 
And thankfully, all the psoriasis on my scalp is completely gone and my hair is slowly growing back. The only problem now is the hair that is growing back where the bald patches were, because it is still so short, I can't do anything with it, it just sticks up everywhere! 
I also have psoriasis under a couple of my nails now, one of my pinkies and a couple of toenails. I have to be extra careful what I do with my feet when barefoot as I've very nearly pulled my nail off thanks to it being loose from the psoriasis and then accidentally hitting it again a door!


The biggest patch that I currently have on my leg, tiny in comparison to a year ago.

 I am still very self-conscious about my body, especially when it comes to potential suitors and what they might think about it. But I have come to terms with it, after suffering with it for almost 5 years, I finally have the mindset that it's a part of me, whether I like it or not, and if somebody can't look past the odd spot of red skin, then they aren't worth my time.

I am so lucky that my psoriasis is getting better. A lot of people out there have yet to find any form of treatment that works for them. 

Even celebrities have this skin condition. Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Cara DeLevingne are all psoriasis sufferers. 





Knowing that celebrities (those who are usually seen as perfect) suffer from the same chronic condition you do makes it a little easier to cope with. I mean, if Cara Delevingne can still strut the catwalk with it on show, then I sure as hell can wear shorts, dresses and skirts if I want to!

So that is my story. If anyone reading this has the same condition or something similar, I'd love to hear from you. Sharing our stories shows others out there that they are not alone, and we can all help each other.

I thought I'd leave you with a couple of websites for those of you that want to know more about Psoriasis, or for those of you who have it and want to know of any treatments you can undergo.
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Psoriasis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
https://www.psoriasis-association.org.uk/

Please leave any questions or comments you have, I really want to hear from you :)





7 comments:

  1. Omg... I remember this episode with Kim.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know how extremely personal this must have been but thanks for sharing. I'm happy to hear that you're happy. :)

    thecollectionofknowledge.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It was quite a difficult topic but I thought it would be nice to share my story :)
      Erin xoxo

      Delete
  3. Loved reading this! I'm glad that you're confident enough in your self that you can share something that must at times be very difficult! That means a lot, and tells a lot about you :) Uni can be stressful sometimes I know, just don't let it get the best of you! :) What do you study?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I've become a lot stronger and more confident in myself over the years! University can be very hard! I'm studying English Literature, what are you studying? :)

      Delete
    2. That's good to hear :) Tell me about it!! I'm studying Sports Science, pretty intense, but I almost chose to do English at Uni, so I know that's pretty full on as a subject too!! Love the blog anyway :) (Not sure it's meant for guys, but hey..) haha :p

      Delete
  4. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Dr.jill

    ReplyDelete