Tuesday, 12 July 2016

In my skin - an update on how I'm dealing with my psoriasis and what's helping me

I'm at an interesting place right now when it comes to my psoriasis. In case you've never heard of it, in brief, it's a skin condition that means a sufferer's skin cells reproduce much quicker than normal, leading to red, raised lesions and patches of white flaky skin on various areas of the body - most commonly scalp, ears and elbows but, in my case, almost everywhere (except my back, and to varying degrees).

It's relatively common, affecting three in every100 people in the UK, and I'm one of those lucky three. It can be small and contained or all consuming. No-one really knows what causes it and as such, there's no definitive treatment and certainly no cure.

Topical creams are usually prescribed to help breakdown the build up of skin. Regular moisturising is required to help the skin retain moisture and not become too dry. Light therapy can be assigned and for some people makes a real difference (for me, it cleared things up beautifully, while the treatments lasted), although you have to be referred and can only have up to 200 sessions in a lifetime. Drugs can also be prescribed but they can affect your immune system so not everyone can take them (i.e. if you're trying for a baby within the next three years).

Psoriasis affects everyone differently, and everyone responds differently to the various treatments.

But there is no cure.

I've come to accept my skin condition. It developed more than five years ago as a patch on my scalp and today manifests itself in patches large and small on my legs, one arm, torso, ears, base of my hairline and small spots on my hands.

It itches, it can get very sore and I'm always aware of it. There's no doubt that it does have a daily impact on me and I have some anxiety and compulsive habits relating to my psoriasis. But I don't - won't - let it stop me. At least not always. I have to wear thick black tights or trousers or leggings to cover my legs, which are the worst affected area for me, but I don't worry too much if patches are slightly on show in other areas; I can't cover up everything!

I will wear a swimming costume when I go to a leisure centre or hotel - I just avoid looking at people in case they are looking at me and wonder what's wrong, do I have something contagious... I just smile, look ahead and pretend that everything is normal.

Denial is the best approach I have for dealing with it. It feels empowering, in fact. As if I am sticking two fingers up at psoriasis.

That's kind of what it feels like; like your skin is turning against you and you feel like you can either be knocked down or come back fighting.

I've always gone between being totally proactive when it comes to treating the symptoms of psoriasis, and just leaving it alone as it can take a lot of time to apply creams and topical treatments several times a day, particularly when you have several affected areas to deal with.

At the moment, I have quite a good routine and have found the following things have helped me:

* Steroid cream - I was prescribed Dovabet gel a while back and it's the best topical solution I have used (I forget all the many other names of lotions and potions I have tried). It's the only real way I have been able to tackle tricky patches, where my skin has become thick, raised and sore, helping thin out the excess layers of skin and quickly too.

Within a day, my skin starts to improve and after day three of application at night time, my legs are smoother and a salmon pink shade and smaller patches here and there have faded.

When my skin gets to this point, I have to stop using it as it's quite strong stuff and you shouldn't use it for a prolonged time. I am then trying to be religious about the following...

* Moisture, moisture, moisture - as it's a dry skin condition, regular use of body moisturiser is the best way to go, albeit time consuming.

My skin can feel quite tender so I've found a new range that's actually designed for eczema prone and sensitive skin. Comvita's Medihoney is a range of skincare products that contain medical grade Manuka honey. Apparently, this is an active ingredient that's been scientifically researched to support the healing of skin and wound infections.

There's a few products available and I've been using the Natural Soap Free Body Wash, as other shower gels can actually make my skin really angry and feel tight when I come out of the shower, so this has been a really nice alternative.

There's also an Antibacterial Wound Gel, which I have found useful to apply when my skin is cracked and sore. Medihoney® is specifically designed to target broken, infected and intact skin and uses the same key ingredient used by professionals and hospitals in treating wounds.

There's a Moisturising Lotion that's light and quick to apply and absorb but my particular favourite is the Skintensive Cream. It's not too thick but it does feel rich when I apply it and again, it absorbs well so I can get dressed right away.

The products also contain oat extract, aloe vera, chamomile and plant butters, all to love and nourish your skin. In the past, some creams have irritated my psoriasis but after a few weeks of use, I can confirm that the range has been gentle and I'm using it to keep my skin moisturised.

Prices range from £8.99 to £10.99 for each product in the range and you can buy direct from the Comvita website (there's currently a sale on) or from selected health stores.

Left to right - the psoriasis on my leg at it's worst, then using the Skintensive cream, with the photo on the far right showing what my steroid cream and the Medicare products have helped to achieve after a couple of days

* Stress less - always easier said than done, but stress is thought to be a real factor and trigger for psoriasis suffers. When it's a stressful thing to have, it makes it a tough cycle to break.

I'm doing what I can to make more time for myself and to unwind. We've started a club membership and I've started yoga and pilates, which is helping me to relieve some tension and have some me time too. Par for the course and all that.

* Getting steamy - in the past, when I have been to a spa, I have always seen an improvement to my psoriasis and skin in general, particularly my complexion. I believe this to be the result of the steam room. I asked a dermatologist about the effects of steam rooms a while back and she said there wasn't any evidence - helpful - but doing my own reading seems to suggest that steam rooms can have a positive affect.

Saunas can dry skin, so not great if you already have dry skin to deal with, but steam rooms open up pores and help your body to sweat out all the nasties. The steam room at our new club was another attraction for me for this reason, and I also find it really relaxing.

So, this is how I am treating my psoriasis. By treating myself better and my skin to some nourishment (and a topical treatment when needed prescribed by the doctor).

Take that psoriasis!

* Note; I wanted to share an update on my psoriasis and how I am coping with it at present. Medicare sent me their new range to try, but all views remain my own.


  1. Positivity, that always shines through in what you do. I see in my job role so many sufferers. You deal with it brilliantly. This piece will touch so many people xx

  2. Thanks for sharing such an honest guide. Really positive to see that you have learnt to deal with it as best as you can.



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