We are slap bang in the middle of Psoriasis Awareness Week running from 1st-8th November. It’s also about time I wrote a post about living with the condition.
Psoriasis affects between 2% to 3% of the British population, but when you’re at home covered from head to toe in prescribed body lotion and steroid ointment in your scalp you feel like you’re the only sufferer in the world. It’s a very lonely condition and not one that many like to talk about.
My experience with psoriasis, an immune condition which primarily affects the skin but also joints too, is a strange one. It has always affected my scalp, hairline and eyebrows the most, I first noticed it as a teenager in secondary school. One day I just started to noticed how itchy my scalp was, after ruling out the dreaded nits I was diagnosed by my GP with psoriasis and prescribed a medicated shampoo, Polytar, a thick, treacle like substance, brown in colour with a very strong scent that I can only compare to the smell of brand new car mats. (They don’t actually manufacture it anymore).
It often just came and went during my teens and was never really a significant issue. Occasionally the dead skin cells would build up on my skin giving the illusion of really, really bad dandruff but with my very long think hair, the skin cells never really made it to my shoulders so it often went unnoticed. Instead it just really really itched. But like when you have a massive spot, I thought everyone was constantly look at my hideous scalp.
During my late teens and early twenties, I guess I got by relatively unscathed. I have no recollections of any really bad bouts of psoriasis, which is why I’ve always argued that alcohol doesn’t cause psoriasis, not for me anyway, this period of my life, 18-21, was when I drank the most and the condition never really affected me.
It got really bad two years ago, I remember it clearly as it was around the time I met my boyfriend of two years, Joe. The condition dramatically worsened quite literally over night. After a few years of mild psoriasis, I woke up one morning two years ago with a psoriasis infused scalp and it’s never really calmed down.
My condition is something I have had to learn to accept, I’ve spent many days and nights crying to my mum, sister and Joe. I’ve also seeked advice from my boyfriend’s family who are qualified hairdressers, they’ve got me the best shampoo on the market and reassured me you ‘can’t really see it’. But I of course think everyone can.
My hair used to be ‘my thing’ but over the last two years I’ve spent almost every day with a Boris Johnson like side parting to cover up the front of my scalp which is where it’s most visible and most sore. Posrais affects everyone differently but for me I find the following symptoms:
- Bright red scalp
- Thinning hair
- Red eyebrows (I constantly look like I’ve just had them threaded)
- Burning & itchy scalp
- Dry and flaky skin where I wear jewelry
- Dry elbows
- Dragon skin like scales on my legs
My psorais goes through stages where it’s okay, bad and really bad. The really bad days tend to be brought on my stress and anxiety, another condition I suffer with. A bad bout of psoriasis can turn a bad day into a horrendous day so it can be a horrible and very vicious circle.
There are so many great websites and organisations out there, I follow The Psoriasis Association on Twitter, they often tweet tips, articles and advice that make me feel less alone in the condition. But I do think it’s something we need to be able to talk about more. Mental health has a had a huge surge in publictity recently which is fantastic, I just hope the same can happen for this conidtion. The world’s biggest model in the world right now, Cara Delavgine has spoken out before about her experience with it. It often creeps on her during her busiest and most stressful time, fashion week. Oh that week when she has to look her most beautiful.
I hope anyone out there, who like me suffers from this physical and emotional condition feels brave enough to speak about their experience. It’s so important to have a community we can all share stories and tips. Hey maybe we even get a # trending. Can you imagine? #shareyourscabbyskin ??
If you suffer from psoriasis, specifically in the hairline and scalp I can highly recommend the following treatments, products and tips:
- T-Gel shampoo (I have tried EVERY SINGLE psoriasis shampoo on the market and this is the best, I use it 3-4 times a week alongside my normal shampoo, for a normal shampoo I often just use whatever is on offer in Boots with the least perfume)
- Coconut oil conditioner, just make sure it’s a quality one containing actual coconut oil
- During really bad bouts I always double my water intake
- Betnovate Scalp Application, now this can only be prescribed by a GP and when using it’s a bit like pouring vodka onto an open wound. It really really stings, but it also really helps. I used this 1-2 times a week usually before bed when I’m washing my hair the next morning. I also wear a thick headband when I use this to make sure it doesn’t spill into my eyes
- Quality dry shampoo. I shouldn’t really use any dry shampoo but I admittedly sometimes just don’t have time to wash my hair daily. I’ve found the cheaper brands affect my scalp more, I like Lee Stafford and TRESemme
- I also avoid hairdryers whenever possible as I think the heat aggrevates my scalp
- I have tried every body lotion out there. The ones I’ve been prescribed don’t help much but I’ve found anything with Almond or Coconut Oil works best
- My most important tip: Don’t stress
For more information visit Psoriasis Association.