Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflamed and scaly skin with periods of outbreaks and remission. It is considered a lifelong disorder with no present cure although there are many ways to treat the symptoms. Psoriasis can be an extremely difficult condition to deal with considering there may be pain involved as well as the risk of multiple co-morbid conditions. Psoriasis affects up to 125 million people worldwide including men, women, and children.
In recent weeks we have talked with a dermatologist about psoriasis to get a doctor’s medical viewpoint of this skin disease. In this post we will be getting the firsthand patient perspective from someone who has been living with psoriasis for many years. One of our MySkinCareConnection members, known as JRonman62, has graciously allowed me the honor to conduct an interview with him about what it is like to live with psoriasis and how he copes.
How long have you had psoriasis? At what age were you diagnosed with it?
I have had psoriasis for 20 years now. I had a massive outbreak not long after finding out that my then wife was pregnant with our second child. That would mean age 28.
What were your first symptoms leading you to see a doctor?
My dad has had psoriasis for as long as I can remember. So, I knew what it looked like. My first symptoms were the classic dry scales. Along with this I had dry cracked skin and the associated pain. The reddened dry skin and scales just kept getting larger and eventually merged with close by affected areas.
What was your emotional reaction to being diagnosed with this chronic skin condition?
My first reaction was anxiety then depression. I had such a large out break and it was so uncomfortable and looked so terrible. I had a defeatist attitude. As I had said above, my dad had it forever and I thought that it would never go away even with the best treatment at the time. Plus, I was worried about the underlying cause of my outbreak. It made me feel so uncomfortable and hurt so much. The depression kicked in when I realized that it would be a lifelong battle. Also, the treatment took so long to give me relief.
What is the most difficult thing to cope with in having psoriasis?
There are a number of things that I have to cope with. One is the physical discomfort. I remember having it on the palm of my hands and could not work because it was so painful. That is paramount. However, a close second is the embarrassment of my physical appearance. The looks that I would get from people made me just want to disappear. I remember one day at work my supervisor called me in her office and told me about the complaints she was getting from my coworkers about me leaving flakes wherever I sat. At the time I was using moisturizer at least 3 times a day and I could do no more. I felt very isolated, embarrassed, and hurt. After all, I am an RN and would have thought that my coworkers would have shown understanding and empathy. Not so.