Thursday 31 July 2014

My psoriasis - an update after two weeks of light therapy

After almost two years of dealing with psoriasis (four if you include having it on my scalp), I finally got the OK to start phototherapy. You can read about my skin struggles here and here but today, I want to share the good news as it seems that phototherapy agrees with me.

I thought that other people who have psoriasis might appreciate before, during and
after photos so they can see the difference phototherapy is making to me. I've chosen
to photograph my legs as they're the most badly affected area for me and I don't think
that these images really show just how bad they were before treatment.

It's no quick fix; I have to go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to spend just over a minute in a light chamber which gives me a calculated dose of UVB light, which increases by 20% at each appointment. There's all sorts of things I can't do beforehand - put anything other than E45 or coconut oil on my skin, not wear jewellery or make-up, avoid drinking alcohol the night before or chopping vegetables before I go - and of course it's impacted on my routine, both on work days and my one day at home with Ethan. Then there's the cost of the car park each time I go.

I arrive at the hospital, park my car, go up to the third floor, arrive at the phototherapy room, wash my hands, get undressed, put my googles on, walk into the chamber, get zapped by the tubes of light, then do everything in reverse, before getting on with my day.

It also won't work for everyone. It's a highly unpredictable condition to have, with doctors still confounded as to the causes and with a cure no-where in sight, and light treatment is rather unpredictable too. Even my consultant at the skin clinic can't seem to tell me what it is about UVB light that can make a difference to psoriasis sufferers or how it works. It just does. For some.

Any given person with the condition can have up to 200 treatments in a lifetime. No more. I am due to have an assessment with the doctor midway through this first course, which will be no longer than 30 sessions. Each week, I'm asked how my skin is doing and if I have noticed any changes. As long as any redness calms down after treatment within 24 hours, I am ok to continue to my next session and when the doctor sees that my skin has smoothed, they may then decide that this period of treatment can end.

As long as it doesn't return in a short space of time, they will consider my condition as in remission. And it may not come back. Or it may start in new places. Who knows? The doctors don't so all I can do is keep following their guidelines and hope that my psoriasis is under control and easier to live with.

So far, I have had seven sessions and I am seeing a difference. For me, it started to show after the second or third visit, which is quite early, and even my legs were looking much smoother and less white / crusty, which is unusual apparently as the skin is thicker here and can take longer to respond.

Not great but certainly not bad either!

The patches on my chest and arms are returning to normal almost and my legs do look quite dramatically different but the best thing is, my skin doesn't feel so bad. It was getting very dry, sore and itchy, particularly in the heat and now, this side of things is subsiding.

I will post another update in another couple of weeks, when I reach the halfway point of this block of treatment. I can only hope that things continue in the way they have been so far...


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