They say hindsight is 20/20 vision! But with this comes wisdom and having had psoriasis now for over twenty years, I look back and realize that had I known just a few simple facts, my journey may have been a lot easier. So today, I’d like to share my top five facts with you. Perhaps you’ve just been recently diagnosed? If so, I hope that these may be of help.
1. It is not a life sentence; it can be managed
I think the only thing I heard all those years ago was the fact that psoriasis cannot be cured. And frankly, like so many others, I became fixated on this fact. For some, this leads to a sense of resignation, sometimes even defeat. For me it led to a determination that there must be a cure and I would find it! This resulted in all manner of crazy diets and weird lotions ‘n potions. But you know what? Nothing was successful. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t find the cure, but what I did discover is that there is now a myriad of treatments available to psoriasis patients. In recent years especially, there has been extraordinary research taking place and so with the help of a good dermatologist, it should be possible for psoriasis patients to manage their psoriasis successfully so that it only has a minimal impact on day to day life. No need for that gluten-free, dairy-free, no-alcohol (ok, I didn’t do that one!) organic-only, flaxseed and fish oil existence. Life can be lived just as well despite your disease.
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2. It doesn’t look as bad as you think
Skin has always caused me problems as I was one of those teenagers who skulked behind a long fringe of hair, trying to hide the adolescent spots on my face. I was convinced that each one was the size of a marble and nothing anyone said could persuade me otherwise. I sometimes wonder if those of us with psoriasis are not dissimilar to those teenagers. We think that our psoriasis is incredibly noticeable, that people are staring at our plaques – but in fact, it’s possible that people haven’t noticed our skin; instead they may have been admiring our gorgeous new haircut, or coveting that great jacket. Don’t automatically jump to the wrong conclusion! Our skin rarely looks as bad as we think. And trust me when I say that in the gym or at the beach, people are so busy obsessing about their own bodies, they are definitely not looking at yours!
(Picture via Pinterest)
3. Beware of the Cold
We are all used to hearing the warnings about wearing SPF and protecting our skin from the sun during the hotter months. However, for those of us with psoriasis, the cold can also cause problems. The skin becomes tighter, drier and in some cases can also become sore. The key is to wear layers. Cotton or silk layers are best as they don’t irritate the skin, but the most important thing I learned was to always wear gloves… in fact, sometimes even two pairs. These have become as ubiquitous in my life as lip balm, with a pair to be found in every bag I own. A simple thing, but they make all the difference!
4. Stop Wearing Dark Colours
This may seem like a shallow piece of advice, but I firmly believe that what we wear affects how we feel, so you’ll just have to go with me on this. The majority of people who have psoriasis will also have it on their scalp and as we all know this inevitably leads to flaking on the shoulders. Quite simply, this is not an attractive look! To counteract this, change your usual black and navy shades for the more forgiving taupes, greys and creams. You’ll feel less self conscious about flaking, so you’ll feel more confident in what you’re wearing and this all helps to bolster self esteem. Not so shallow after all, is it?!
(Picture via Pinterest)
As someone who has paid out fortunes for gym memberships but then never went (Oh the guilt! Oh the shame!) it almost pains me to finally admit that actually exercise does help. Huge gym subscriptions are not essential – in my grand old age, I’ve discovered the joys of walking. What exercise does is release endorphins, which make you feel better. It lifts your spirits, it helps keep your weight in check and even better, if you do some exercise daily, it will definitely help you sleep. And as sleep is often that elusive thing for those of us with itchy skin, this is a very big benefit indeed. So c’mon, pull on those trainers! I promise you won’t regret it. If I can do it, you most definitely can.
(Picture via Pinterest)
I suppose the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that psoriasis is no longer the life sentence it once was and that although it can be unpredictable, irritating and annoying, it still doesn’t have to define your life. There are wonderful treatments now available – indeed, I’d even say that the future is looking bright!
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Helen Hanrahan loves fashion, a passion that has been hampered by psoriasis, which she has suffered from for more than 20 years. Helen provides fashion tips on her own blog, The Flaky Fashionista. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates.
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