I thought I’d share a personal story that I’ve been dealing with off and on for about 10 years now…
When I was 16, (junior year of high school) I started getting dry patches on my knees. It was super embarrassing and really annoying. I had a feeling it was psoriasis, because only a couple years prior my mom started getting it for the first time in her life. I stopped wearing shorts and would find myself scratching without even realizing it.
Luckily, my dad was a physician and got me in to see a Dermatologist. We tried 4 or 5 topical medications over the next year and a half with little to no luck. When the outbreaks would get better I would stop using the medication, but it eventually returned within a few weeks.
My mom was in a trial for a new medication made for people who have Psoriatic Arthritis at the time. I tested for the trial with blood work, exams, and x rays, but didn’t have enough of the symptoms to be diagnosed at the time.
There was a year in my early 20’s where the psoriasis had taken over my shins, knees, and elbows. I hated showing my skin and explaining what it was to clients at the gym when I was training them. Most people hadn’t heard about psoriasis so I felt the need to tell them it wasn’t contagious, and how it was a genetic thing I got from my mom. At one point, I had a full body outbreak of small red spots that were different from the normal dry patches I usually had called Guttate Psoriasis. They lasted for about a month, but eventually went away. It wasn’t until recently that I learned people who have Psoriasis get Guttate outbreaks as a reaction from getting Strep Throat.
I learned over time that the Psoriasis gets worse with stress, and scratching. I also learned the importance of continuous moisturizing. Funny enough, the spots actually get better with constant sun exposure, about 20-30 minutes a day. It made sense that my refusing to wear shorts or skirts wasn’t helping, and that after a vacation when I was 19 to Lake Havasu, my shins and knees had cleared up dramatically!
My Psoriasis has been limited to my knees and elbows for the past 4-5 years which is great, but I haven’t had clear skin for more then a couple months at a time since my original outbreak at 16. After the wedding and new insurance plan, I finally decided to try a Dermatologist again. I’ve also noticed my nails become bumpy sometimes, and my fingers had been swelling and stiff some mornings the past couple of years. Signs that arthritis may be kicking in… After meeting with the Dermatologist, he was able to confirm that I now have Psoriatic Arthritus, and recommended testing to see if I would be a good fit for Humira. I’ve had the bloodwork done, and was given some topical medications in the meantime. I’m back and forth over starting Humira, but I know the key is that I’m still young, and that it’s better to stop the degeneration now rater then later…
At home, I try to stay away from products that may make my skin reactive. I like laundry detergents that are all natural, like the one Trader Joe’s makes. They also carry soaps that I really like, the lavender scent is my favorite. Oils like Vitamin E and Argon Oil help keep my skin smooth and are sensitive so my skin doesn’t react. There are tons of lotions out there, but I always lean to ones made for dry skin like Eucerin’s Dry Skin Therapy lotion. Its fragrance free and keeps my skin from getting flaky longer then other brands do.
Going through this has made me realize the importance of being aware of my body even more so, but not to let psoriasis define me. I’m still able to do everything I think I would be if I didn’t have it, and although there is no cure, I can manage it and refuse to let it hold me back with being comfortable in who I am. I wear shorts now, I stay active, and having the need to be outdoors makes my hobbies all that more important and enjoyable!
We all have our own obstacles, but it’s how we chose to accept them and move forward that really makes a difference! My goal is not to let having Psoriatic Arthritis be anything then another piece of me I need to take care of life. Just like my diet and exercise. Cooking meals and cleaning the house. It can all be incorporated into life, and there’s balance somewhere in all of it… I’m still working on getting there, but it’ll come with time:)
Thanks to everyone who may have found some interest in this post! I’ll post a couple of links below if you would like to learn more about Psoriasis, and Psoriatic Arthritus below. Hope you have a great week and thank you for letting me share with you!
Lots of Love,