My first flare up of Psoriasis came when I was 11 years old. One day I woke up and was covered in red, flaky patches. The only body parts free of this were my face, hands and feet. This was scary and when the doctor saw it and said that he had never seen anything like it, my heart sank. I was referred to a dermatologist and they confirmed that it was Guttate Psoriasis. This particular type is usually caused by a throat infection which I had recently caught.
I was given creams which I had to apply constantly throughout the day. As I was still in school, the big issue that arose was other children. My teacher at the time was amazing and gave the class a talk on Psoriasis and emphasised the point that it was not a contagious disease. After that, I didn’t get much grief from the other children. It was summer though and I spent most of it completely covered up, not wanting anyone to know the extent of the condition.
But, I was still embarrassed and felt disgusting all the time. I cannot imagine anyone would enjoy being covered in red blotches of flaky skin. I think this was probably what triggered my intensely low self esteem.
My next flare up was not until I was 18 and had just got to university. Another throat infection and another couple of months of misery. It was pretty easy to explain to the people I was in halls with, we were adults after all. However, there were still some horrified looks. Psoriasis can appear in small patches or cover up to 80% of the body. When mine flares up, it’s probably towards the higher end of that.
As lame as it may sound, it has actually really helped me to see celebrities talking about their experiences with Psoriasis in the media. I now feel like the next time I am covered in scales, I can walk around safely in the knowledge that there are supermodels who have had to deal with it. If they can walk down the runway (albeit covered with make up) then I can walk down the street without being embarrassed.
Yes, Psoriasis is not pretty. It is uncomfortable and difficult to treat. I just urge you, if you ever see anyone with some sort of skin rash, please do not stare or comment on it or look at the person in disgust. We know that it is there, we cannot make it disappear. It is part of our lives.