What I Have Learnt Since Having Psoriasis

simple illustrated diagram of the layers of skin and psoriasis

It’s a skin condition that affects just two per cent of the UK population, but if you have ever endured the eye-watering itchiness and discomfort that psoriasis causes then you’ll know just how debilitating it can be. Mine started back when I was in my 20’s with dry, itchy red patches developing along the left side of my neck.

For the first few weeks I blamed the change in season and higher-than-usual stress levels. But the patches didn’t ease up, instead they blistered and spread up to my scalp, behind my ears, along my forehead and over my neck. Putting it down to an allergic reaction, my doctor prescribed me Hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines.

While these helped to calm down the itchiness, but they did little to ease the redness around my neck and face. Psoriasis can be tricky to diagnose and if you haven’t experienced a severe bout of it before, then it’s not uncommon to assume that it is an allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten or used.

Flare-ups come and go in cycles. In its mildest form it can be confused with eczema as the patches are red, dry and itchy, while the severest attacks can look like reactions to food or creams. During the first six months, I was given several different diagnoses, including acute eczema, dermatitis and allergic reactions.

The NHS defines psoriasis as: ‘a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body.’

Admittedly this sounds very similar to eczema, however psoriasis is an autoimmune disease where your skin cells multiply at a faster rate than usual and don’t shed, which results in bumpy, inflamed skin and can lead to infections. “Our skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four weeks,” says dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahoto. With psoriasis this process can take just three to seven days.

First and foremost, if you think you might have psoriasis it is key to ask your doctor or a dermatologist for a skin biopsy to rule out any other skin conditions. While it’s a chronic skin condition that you will always have, there are ways to make it more manageable.

It’s thought that genetics plays a role in psoriasis and it can run in families. When it comes to managing your condition though, anything from what you eat to the lotions and potions you use can exacerbate the rashes and blisters. Like most things in life stress is a common trigger for flare-ups.

For me, the best thing I ever did was to start a skin diary. I documented everything I ate and drank, how much exercise I’d done, which skincare products I was using, as well as how I felt on a day-to-day basis. While not everything that worked for me will work for everyone suffering with psoriasis, it might give you some food for thought. I found that stripping my beauty routine right back to the very basics made a huge difference. Out went any foaming cleansers as they dried out my skin, along with acid-based formulas and peels.

Instead, my skin relished in soothing, hydrating formulas that helped mute the itchiness without feeling heavy or clogging my pores. For my scalp, I found coal tar shampoo helped reduce the scaling endless white flakes. Although I appreciate not everyone will be willing to catch a whiff of tarmac every time you move your hair.

In terms of my diet I was advised to try cancelling out different food groups to see if they had any impact on my skin. For me, cutting out dairy, wheat and alcohol made the biggest difference. I would wake up and my skin wouldn’t look or feel red-raw and my hair didn’t look like I’d slept-walked through a snow blizzard.

After months of trial and error, constantly scribbling down in my skin diary and making small tweaks to my day-to-day routine, I can finally say that while the psoriasis on my scalp and behind my ears persists, the red scaling from my face and neck has gone. It’s not necessarily gone for good and I’m still a work-in progress, but I feel more in control of it.

As it stands there is no cure no psoriasis and I would be lying if I said I had never battled with a dark moment, but my biggest piece of advice to anyone suffering with psoriasis is to stay positive and stick with your skin diary.

How To Survive IVF

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Since the world’s first test-tube baby Louise Brown was born in 1978, IVF has become part of our language. Nowadays, one in 50 babies born in the UK is the result of in vitro fertilisation and the success rate, currently about 25 per cent with each cycle, increases every year. But as couples who have been through the process know, the joy comes at a cost.

Journalist and broadcaster Richard Mackney, 44, and his wife Rosie Bray, 39, a TV producer, whose one-year-old daughter Molly was conceived through IVF , have written a new book, Get a Life, as a ‘his and hers survival guide’ for other couples. Read More…

A Natural Psoriasis Cream

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There are many natural psoriasis creams on the market that it can often be difficult to decide which cream is the best one to use and what ingredients to watch out for. A cream for psoriasis is a popular choice for the majority of sufferers with many choosing to try alternatives to steroid creams or coal tar creams which are not without side effects and are certainly very messy to use.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which manifests itself on skin. Normally, our skin cells divide at a constant rate but in the case of psoriasis, the cells begin to multiply at a much faster pace leading to a build-up of skin cells which causes the characteristic horny outer layers. This increased cell proliferation also leads to inflammation which is characteristic of symptoms. These rashes may appear as red bumps that itch, flat red blotches on skin or silvery white patches on skin. Read More…

PMS – fragile

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Q: I’m in my mid-30s and generally healthy, but I feel very fragile before my periods. I either want to cry or snap someone’s head off, have food cravings and put on weight. My GP suggests taking the pill but I prefer natural medicine.

A: As many as 30 per cent of women can experience moderate to severe PMS, according to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (pms.org.uk). ‘The symptoms may be severe enough to affect their relationships and ability to cope with home life and work. It can feel like being on a hormonal rollercoaster and may even lead to depression,’ says nutritionist and women’s health expert Marilyn Glenville, author of Overcoming PMS The Natural Way (Piatkus, £8.99).

The term PMS (premenstrual syndrome) describes any symptoms that occur after ovulation and disappear as soon as the period arrives. Read More…

Three of the Best Skin Calmers

lemon

1. FOR COLD SORES
Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends lemon balm, which has been shown to combat and heal cold sores in two to four days. To avoid contamination, apply with a fresh cotton bud each time. Lemon Balm Cream by Granary Herbs, £8.50 for 60ml.

2. FOR ECZEMA IN BABIES AND CHILDREN
Steroid-free (but not natural) Dermalex Repair, developed by dermatologists, relieves itching and prevents new flare-ups. Dermalex Repair by Omega Pharma, £24.99 for 100g, from amazon.co.uk.

3. FOR PSORIASIS AND ECZEMA
Argan Organics Healing Touch is a totally natural treatment cream with cardiospermum, anti-inflammatory herbs and argan oil, which has helped many sufferers (no product will suit everyone, sadly). £19.99 for 100ml. Read More…

Alleviating Eczema And Psoriasis

eczema cream

Many people choose to seek natural remedies for alleviating eczema and psoriasis. These skin problems can give one a lot of discomfort and for some may be debilitating. Most of us use the term eczema and psoriasis very loosely and yet these two concerns are similar, yet distinctly different. The terms eczema and psoriasis are both of Greek origin. Eczema literally means ‘to boil out’ whilst psoriasis means ‘to itch’. Eczema affects both children and adults whereas psoriasis seems to predominantly affect adults. Surveys suggest that nearly 20% of children living in UK, and five percent of the adult population suffer from eczema whilst three percent of the adults suffer from psoriasis. When you put these percentages into numbers, we are talking in terms of millions of sufferers and it is no wonder that there are hundreds of both natural and pharmaceutical products aimed at both these concerns.

With eczema, the itch starts before the rash develops, whilst with psoriasis there is an increased growth in the outer part of skin, which gets inflamed resulting in white thick layers of skin. Both eczema and psoriasis are potentially allergic concerns that can be triggered by environmental factors, external allergens and even food intolerances. Although not fully understood, psoriasis has a hereditary component and may be triggered by stress and infections. Whilst there are different types of eczema and psoriasis, essentially the treatment for these concerns remains similar. Read More…