Psoriasis Awareness Month: What Is It Like To Live With Psoriasis?
This August is Psoriasis Awareness Month - but what is psoriasis, and what is it like to live with it? Psoriasis is a skin condition that’s thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system. It presents as thick, dry, and raised patches on the skin that itch or burn. The patches are often covered in a silvery-white scale that is referred to as 'plaques'.
Psoriasis is truly life altering - it cannot be cured, and often requires more intense treatment than topical creams can give. From oral medications to specialist treatments including light therapy, the severity of psoriasis varies vastly from person to person.
What causes psoriasis?
It's unknown exactly what causes psoriasis, however, it's thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system where your body produces new cells in the deepest layers of your skin at a much faster rate than usual.
Normally, this process should take three to four weeks, however, in people with psoriasis, the process takes just three to seven days which causes the cells that are not fully mature to rapidly build up on the surface of the skin, resulting in the flaky, scaly patches.
Psoriasis does run in families, and different genes are connected to the condition, but it's thought that different combinations of genes are more likely to make people vulnerable to developing psoriasis. It's also thought that lifestyle and environmental triggers could trigger psoriasis. These include, but are not limited to:
- Immune disorders like HIV
- Throat infections
- Hormonal changes
- Skin injuries that trigger the Koebner response
Who Does Psoriasis affect?
It's reported that psoriasis affects 2% of people in the UK - that's around 2 in 100 people. It can start at any age, but most commonly develops in adults between 20 and 30 years old, and between 30 and 50 years old. It affects both men and women equally.
Living With Psoriasis: An Interview With Lianne from Fix My Psoriasis
Lianne, the driving force behind the instagram account, Fix My Psoriasis, kindly agreed to share her psoriasis experience with us so we could get a better understanding of what of living with psoriasis is like, and help to raise awareness on this chronic condition.
Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself And When Your Psoriasis Was First Diagnosed?
Lianne is 36 and is from Manchester - a city situated in North West England. "I was first diagnosed with psoriasis when I was five, following a bout of chickenpox." Lianne says, "so I don't really remember life without the condition."
Lianne recalls when she was asked to leave a swimming pool at the age of 13 as the lifeguard and onlookers were concerned that she was contagious. "Although that was hard," Lianne explains, "I quickly realised how little awareness there was around a condition that affects millions of people around the world."
As Lianne grew older, she turned to the internet in search of that elusive 'cure' for psoriasis, and looked for a place to feel safe where she could share the details about life living with psoriasis. Lianne found much more than she bargained for when she came across likeminded women and men. This community of amazing friends connected through their experience of living through the same condition, and came together to share their tips, tricks, support, and love.
"That's how @fixmypsoriasis was born," Lianne explains. "And through this, my confidence living with psoriasis has grown so much. It is now my mission to help normalise the condition and empower others to feel comfortable in their skin too."
What Is The Most Challenging Part Of Having Psoriasis?
"I'd say the unpredictability of the condition is the most challenging part." Lianne says. She goes on to explain that there isn't a pattern to psoriasis, so there doesn't seem to be any way of knowing how long the good days will last, or when you're next likely to experience a flare. "You have to learn to lean into the condition and take each day as it comes - it's not always easy but it makes the hard days easier." Lianne says.
What Is The Most Positive Thing You’ve Taken From Having Psoriasis?
"To embrace being different." Lianne says. She explains that everybody has something they don't like about themselves, so if it wasn't her psoriasis, she would undoubtedly dislike something else. She explains that knowing that has made her look at others as well as herself with more kindness, and instead of focusing on those differences negatively, she now looks upon them positively, celebrating them rather than penalising them.
Our team at Face the Future strongly believe in empowerment and self-love, so we asked Lianne what message she'd give to women and men struggling with their self-esteem because of their psoriasis or other skin condition. "There's no denying that it can be tough," Lianne says, "but if you can be kind to yourself, it makes the tough days a little easier. And until you the courage to champion yourself, there's a whole community out there campaigning to normalise conditions like psoriasis and celebrating our skin - so jump on board with that and connect with others just like you."
What Are Your Favourite Self-Care Activities That Help You To Feel Content?
"Yoga and good sleep hygiene are two biggies for me, and more recently prioritising activities that allow me to disconnect from all things digital and just be." Lianne says. "I've recently taken up painting - one evening a week I will switch off and just paint whatever comes to mind. It really helps me to be mindful and forget about all other distractions."
We'd like to give a massive thank you to Lianne for kindly sharing her experience with us. If you're struggling with psoriasis, make sure to check out Lianne's instagram at FixMyPsoriasis and become part of her empowering community.
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