Psoriasis is described as a chronic, recurrent inflammatory skin disorder. Although it appears on the skin, it is much more than that. Many medical professionals find it is directly linked to the immune system, as the body’s immune system is overactive and attacks normal tissues within the body. I believe most people see it as being similar to eczema, but it’s much more than that. There are a few similarities, but they’re ultimately two very different conditions.
I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was around six years old after my mom noticed red patches flaring up on my skin after a bout of strep throat. I was taken to the dermatologist and diagnosed with psoriasis, it having been triggered by my strep throat infection. It was a difficult diagnosis and my parents tried multiple treatments with me. There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are ways to mitigate symptoms, such as oral medication, steroid injections and creams, and over-the-counter treatments. I’ve tried many over the years but have resorted to simply using over-the-counter products, as I found that they produce the same results personally as something that is prescribed.
This is the usual spiel I give people when asked about my skin, but it is much deeper than this to me. To have an aggressive skin disorder throughout my childhood and teenage years was especially difficult— I had to deal with many rude questions and teasing from my classmates. I usually don’t mind when people ask about my skin— it’s typical to be curious. However, it’s the way someone will ask that bothers me. I’ve been asked, “what’s wrong with your skin” as if there is something bad or incorrect about having a skin disorder. Another one that particularly hurts is “is it contagious?” as if I’m a leper that is spreading my ‘disease’ around. If you want to know, be kind and ask questions in a respectful manner. I’ve been told my skin is gross-looking or that I should cover it up to avoid being asked questions. It costs nothing to be kind to someone different than you, and I wish more people understood that when inquiring about my psoriasis.
Psoriasis is something I’ve had to come to terms with, as there’s no cure, I’m pretty much stuck with it for the rest of my life. It isn’t just a skin disorder either, as there’s a myriad of health issues I face such as psoriatic arthritis, heart disease, depression, systematic inflammation, and chronic fatigue. I’ve lost pigment on my skin after flare-ups, white spots now replacing it. Similarly, I’m affected by Koebner’s Phenomenon, which causes psoriasis to flare in places where I’ve experienced trauma, such as cuts or even bruises. This makes psoriasis difficult since I have to be extremely careful to not damage my skin even further to prevent further flare-ups.
Even though psoriasis is hard to live with, I want to help educate more people about what it’s like living with this disorder and the stigmas that come with it.