Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dealing with Diseases that Affect the Skin - Psoriasis

I know this will be a bit off topic, but I wanted to share something as beauty to me, is also skin and health related.  Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am posting what works for me. Consult your dermatologist for more information.

The reason for the title diseases that affect the skin is because I do not have a "skin disease".  I have an autoimmune disease that affects my skin.  I have psoriasis.  You may not have been able to tell from pictures, but I have plaque psoriasis and inverse psoriasis (the 2nd being the most rare form...as my roommate used to tell me, it's the only lottery I'm ever going to win!)
Here is Psoriasis of the ear (yes that is my ear!).  In short, your skin may act as if it is fitting an infection or repairing itself, so rather than skin cells generating in weeks, the skin goes into hyper mode and repairs in a matter of days, leaving plagues on the surface (for plaque psoriasis). Inverse psoriasis occurs in skin folds and I will openly admit that I get it under the arms, on the opposite side of the elbow, the sides of the groin, and my thighs.  I'm posting about locations because many people are ashamed of the skin and it can be a bit daunting shedding all your clothes at a derm office, but there are treatments available and it is better to be seen than to suffer with itchiness, discomfort, or pain (depending on locations).

This is my elbow currently.  You can see it looks different than the ear.  I always get circles of it on my elbow...consult your doctor to make sure it is not fungal (ie, ringworm) when seeking treatment.

My tips:
  1. Above all else, see a doctor.  I have prescriptions to aid my outbreaks.  Different prescriptions may be used to treat different areas and in extreme cases, light treatments can be used. Remember, this is a chronic disease, so despite outbreaks, a person will still have psoriasis.
  2. Diet & exercise.  While not proven, many think diet & exercise helps.  I've eliminated a lot of processed foods (but hey, I still love my salt & vinegar chips every now and again!). I've lost about 20 lbs since changing everything and overall, I feel healthier.
  3. Soap.  Try switching to mild, fragrance free hand soaps and body wash.
  4. Laundry detergent.  I recommend the All Free & Clear version.  No fragrance, no dyes. 
  5. Limit alcohol and smoking. Both can be stressors.
  6. Just b/c it says "moisturizing" doesn't make it good.  Fragrances can be killer on the skin.  I used to love Bath & Body Works, but my skin, does not.  For lotions, I recommend Eucerin.  Fragrance free, tested, many derms recommend it (I also have a prescription hand lotion/foam that works very well if you have psoriasis on the hands)
  7. Relax!  Stress is thought to increase outbreaks, so even though we all have stressors, try to get relaxation time in each day whether it's doing yoga, soaking in the bath, or just doing something you enjoy.
  8. Don't be ashamed :) I once had a co-worker look at my arm and ask me if I was attacked by an animal.  Are you kidding?  Sadly, he wasn't. 
I used to cover up plaques with foundation.  Yes, foundation on my arms.  I only aggravated my skin more and made it worse.  Plus, I was doing it to make other people comfortable (and to be clear, I have mild to moderate outbreaks, I am by no means saying that I am an extreme case).

Having skin problems can be devastating, especially in severe cases, but talking to others dealing with the disease, you may find tips/tricks/treatments that you didn't know about.  You can find many sites online to discuss treatments with others.

Sorry for the insanely long post, but I wanted to put this out there for anyone who does deal with psoriasis.  You can always feel free to ask me any questions, I'm open about my experiences. I have been diagnosed for about 7-8 months and have dealt with outbreaks in the past 1.5 years. My sister also has psoriasis and celiac disease (as many people have more than one health problem).  Other than that, my family does not have Psoriasis, so it can be something that people feel like they are going through alone.

With treatments, my skin and outbreaks have diminished significantly.  I've also been healthier as I've made lifestyle changes.


  1. Oh Staci, I feel for you. Autoimmune disease sucks. I suffer from a form of RA called Ankylosing Spondylitis. The meds I had to take messed up my skin and hair for years. I think you are brave for posting this. Lots of people suffer in silence.
    I used to feel discomfort/shame when people used to stare but now I don't give S**t. LOL If they can't handle it then don't look.
    I think you're great for putting yourself out there.

  2. This is a very inspiring post for those with the same issues! Great post dear!

  3. Thank you both ladies! It's an important issue to me, so I know it's a bit off-topic on a beauty blog, but I wanted to get it out.

    @Raina I'm so sorry you dealt with this as well, but I agree with your attitude about it! I think it takes awhile to get to that place and I'm glad you did.