Psoriasis Treatments & Tips | My Story
At the beginning of 2013, I started waking up in the middle of the night with tight pains in my abdomen, though at the time I thought the pain was in my chest. The pain kept getting worse until one night I was rushed to the hospital. It carried on this for months, having massive attacks of pain and sickness, getting rushed to the hospital and pumped full of medicines and painkillers until I was finally diagnosed with gallstones and was taken in for emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed.
They say that the pain from having a gallbladder attack is second worse to the pain of a heart attack so once I had the surgery I was relieved my ordeal was over and I could get back to my old self. But that was not the case.
I started noticing really odd patches on my body which I first thought I had caught some kind of disease or infection from being in the hospital. My skin continued to get worse, spreading across most of my body and scalp.
I went to my local GP who diagnosed me with psoriasis, he explained that the stress and strain of the attacks and surgery my body undertook probably caused my immune system to go into overdrive and ever since then I’ve been trying to find ways to treat it.
I wanted to share some tips that have helped me.
First of all here are a few facts about Psoriasis:
- Is an immune condition which causes the skin replacement process to speed up. Normal skin cells take between 21-28 days where psoriasis skin cells replace every couple of days
- Effects 2-3% of people in the UK
- Main triggers are stress, anxiety, injury to the skin, hormonal change, infection and medication.
- You cannot catch it
- Effects everyone differently
- T cells triggered and are over-active – they act as if fighting an infection or healing a wound
- Known as an autoimmune disease
Psoriasis can affect anybody, even celebrities suffer from it. Kim Kardashian and Cara Delevingne are known to suffer from the disease. They are both beautiful women who hold their head up high, especially as I must be tough being in the spotlight and being under such media pressure. They have definitely helped me gain some confidence back and not to shy away because of psoriasis.
Having psoriasis really shattered my self-esteem, at first I was ashamed, embarrassed and a little bit terrified of what was happening to me. I felt like my body had let me down and I felt like a totally different person. I felt pretty depressed about the whole situation, always hiding my body away so no one could see it.
I remember one remark where someone said “err what’s up with you scalp” I just wanted the ground to swallow me up right then and there.
I have now got psoriasis on my body under control and its now quite manageable, I have a lot of white marks (scarring) from where I have used steroids creams and I do have days where I break out and get the red flaky patches but it’s a lot-lot better than it once was. My body plaques are generally really small patches but there are a lot and widely spread.
My scalp, on the other hand, is still really bad *sad face* I get really red patches that are extremely flaky and itchy. I now get paranoid wearing black tops as the flakes full quite badly on my shoulders, basically looked like I had been snowed on. My hair is also falling out which I get down about.
Tips & Treatments
The first shampoo you will come across or most likely be recommended is a coal tar based shampoo. T-Gel is probably the most well known in this range and can be bought from any local supermarket.
Another coal tar shampoo that I had used is Capasal; I must say that these shampoos didn’t really work for me. Apart from leaving my hair smelling like petrol it also made it very dry & straw like.
A shampoo that I have found has made some difference is Vichy Dercos Shampoo. It reduced some of the itchiness of my scalp.
The worst thing about most scalp treatments is that they can be very greasy. The first thing you should invest in is a hair towel wrap; they are very handy for keeping the treatment contained and stops the grease from getting everywhere.
The longer you can keep it on for the better; I try and do it at least once a week, normally at the weekend so I can sleep with the treatment in.
The first treatment I tried was Doo Gro Oil when I first started getting scalp psoriasis. The plaques on my scalp are very thick & scabby. Using this oil really helped soften the scabs and help them come away from the scalp.
Other oils I have used in this method are coconut oil (A massive must have for psoriasis all in general) & Argan oil. Both effective in some form for the scalp and hair.
I personally believe that baths are very important in treating this condition. First of all, they can be really distressing and be relaxing which is a massive help. Second of all it a way you can soak your whole body.
My favourite soaking method is adding coconut oil to my bath, it really helps moisturise & nourish the skin. Other methods I like to use is oat baths & Dead Sea Salt. Also washing your emollient is a MUST.
Emollients must be your number one priority; it’s your new best friend. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your skin moisturised.
I moisturise my body in the morning and before I go to bed every day, it is truly important to keep up with a routine like this.
If for some reason you can’t get your hands on emollient then use another kind of moisturise (preferably scent free and for sensitive skin) but make sure you moisturise!
An effective treatment for psoriasis is ultraviolet light treatment; this generally would be prescribed by a dermatologist and is used in a controlled medical environment.
Obviously, this treatment is not always available to everybody, so a substitute (and I use that word loosely) is using a sunbed.
I know full well the risks of using sunbeds and I use them at my own risk but 100% have a positive effect on my psoriasis. I don’t use them all the time, only when it’s really flared up and I need a little extra help to get in under control.
If you do use sunbeds only use them occasionally and at your own risk.
These creams will only be prescribed to you by a doctor; I find that ointments based steroids work better for me than cream ones. The steroids do their stuff but they can leave you with scarring effect so I know using them is not everyone’s cuppa tea.
Food & Drink
Not only do I suffer from psoriasis but I also suffer from IBS, and have other food intolerances. Not to say they are always linked to one another but in my cases, it seemed to be.
Since cutting out gluten from my diet I have really noticed my skin had calmed down and in reverse, I notice it flares up if I have gluten.
Other foods that are good to avoid are red meat, tomatoes and pepper as these foods can cause a flare up of the skin.
This will come as no surprise but smoking and drinking alcohol are so bad for your skin. I know it’s easier said than done about quitting smoking but if you’re really want to treat your psoriasis you really need to try.
I’m no angel, I like a nice Rose wine but I know full well that the next day my skin will be awful so keep to drinking in low moderation.
It used to really annoy me when the doctors used to say “are you under stress” or “you need to be less stressed” blah blah blah.
It’s not like we choose to be stress and the issue that stresses us out aren’t so easily removed from life.
It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, I get stressed about psoriasis and that causes it to be worse.
But just try getting a good night’s sleep, take nice relaxing baths & exercise when you can.
I love wearing a good skirt or dress on a night out but I do get very self-conscious of the patches on my legs.
I like to use Hard Candy’s Glamoflague concealer to cover them up; it’s a heavy duty concealer that can be used to cover up such things as scars, birthmarks and even tattoos. I will only cover them up if I need to as it’s not going to do my skin much good putting concealer on, but I have never found it to get worse either.
I will always look to try new treatments to help treat my condition. I hope that this post may be able to help someone else in my situation.
Have you tried any of these tips before or got any tips of your own? Would love to hear from you.