I have been wanting to write this post for a long time now but I have always been scared of the response it would get.
Would I be judged?
Would people be repulsed?
Would I get nasty comments?
Would I be deemed a monster?
At the age of 17, I got a
huge small pimple on my stomach which stayed there over a short period of time. Over this time, the pimple grew bigger and bigger until it was no longer a pimple but a red, dry patch of skin no bigger than a 10 pence piece.
After going backwards and forwards to the doctor trying to establish what this was, they finally concluded that it was ringworm. Treatment was set in place and I was put on a dose of antibiotics and given special creams to clear up the infection. However, it wasn’t ringworm, they were wrong, it was Psoriasis.
So what is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. Psoriasis is mostly common on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can be found anywhere on the body. It is equally common in males and females and can appear at any age but often develops in adults under the age of 35. The condition is not contagious so it cannot be spread from person to person. It can be caused by triggers such as stress, infection, or certain medication.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.
What causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis occurs when the process by which the body produces skin cells is accelerated. Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four months, but in psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days. This results in a build-up of skin cell that creates the patches associated with psoriasis.
Although the process is not fully understood, it is thought the increased production of skin cells is related to a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body’s defence against disease and infection, but in people with psoriasis it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake.
How to treat Psoriasis.
There is no cure for Psoriasis, but there are a rang of treatments available to make the condition more comfortable and in control.
Treatments fall into three categories:
- Topical – creams and ointments that are applied to your skin
- Phototherapy – your skin is exposed to certain types of ultraviolet light
- Systemic – oral and injected medications that work throughout the entire body
As stated above, my Psoriasis first made its unwanted appearance on my stomach. Shortly after it started to clear on my stomach, small patches, the size of a 5 pence piece, appeared on my forehead and under my right eye. This upset me a lot more than having it on my stomach. At least on my stomach I could cover it up. I was an 18 year old girl with horrible marks on her face. No one wants to be that girl.
From the age of 18 to 19, I had the patches on my forehead and under my right eye, clearing up from time to time. When I was nearly 20, I stopped going out all the time and cut down my intake of alcohol. This helped my skin tremendously. The patches on my face cleared completely.
However, this was not very long lived. The Psoriasis showed its vicious face again just before my 20th birthday, not only coming back on my face, but now in my scalp and a few patches at the top of my back and under my breast. Whilst the patches on my skin were easily treatable, the patches on my scalp were not. After nearly a year of dealing with bad Psoriasis in my hair, and trying EVERY medication, cream, shampoo possible, I resorted to cutting all my hair off. Believe me, this decision did not come lightly. It was a hard decision to make, but as my hair was coming out in clumps and the pain was just unbearable, I didn’t really have much choice.
To most, cutting their hair off would not be a big deal if it meant treating the condition. However, my hair was down to the middle of my back and I had never had hair any shorter than my shoulders. Now, it was barely an inch long. i was devastated.
Since cutting my hair off over 9 months ago now, my scalp has cleared up tremendously. Obviously there is going to be patches where it still hasn’t fully healed, but the pain has decreased by 90%.
Presently, the only Psoriasis I have is at the top of my forehead just around my hairline. For me this is really good. To you, I look like a monster.
But I am not a monster. I am a person. Just like you.
So next time you see me out, you see photos of me, you see someone with something you don’t understand, don’t judge them. Don’t laugh, point or stare at them. Because the chances are, they are very conscious of it and they have tried their best to cover it.
We are all human. We are imperfectly perfect.
So think before you make a nasty remark, it is not a nice condition to live with, it is demoralising, its upsetting and most of all you don’t understand the pain they have gone through. It is a day to day battle to control it. You don’t know if you are going to wake up in the morning with a face like a monster.
Thank you to my friends and family for all the support you have given me through out the years and for understanding when I didn’t want to leave my room because of my appearance. For telling me I was Rapunzel as my hair grows longer and longer, and for still treating me like me.
I haven’t changed, I’m not diseased, I’m still me.
Natalie, the same person I was before my condition.
Love Tilly xx