I should probably preface this post by saying that although the patches of psoriasis I have are quite severe, I’m lucky enough to have it confined to a small part of my body and by no means suffer to the same degree as other people.
Have you ever had chicken pox? If you have, you’ll know what it’s like to have a relentless itch that drives you potty and is very hard to control your scratching impulses with. If you suffer with psoriasis, or many other skin conditions, that itch is worse than chicken pox, only it doesn’t go away after 5-7 days, it’s there all the time and is exacerbated by any number of internal and external factors.
I have psoriasis. It’s only on my feet and hands and occasionally my knees, but it really makes me miserable at times. If you’re squeamish, don’t read this next sentence – on more than one occasion, I’ve been absent-mindedly scratching my feet, only to look down and realise that my hand and foot are covered in blood. It’s difficult to explain to a person who’s never had it how strong that compulsion to scratch can be, how it’s possible to remove skin and go down to the flesh below, but trust me, it’s overpowering at times.
I’ve only has psoriasis for a few months – I have a family member who’s suffered all of her life more or less and I used to nag her. I’d say “you mustn’t use that brand of showergel!” or badger her into going to the doctors to see if there was a new cream or unguent he could give her to bring some relief and I could never understand her reluctance. Until now. See, with psoriasis, it’s never going to completely go away. You use the creams religiously but the only thing that’s really effective is strong steroids, which means that you can only use them for a limited amount of time before you need to give your body a break, so you use them, get rid of the patches, stop using the cream and it comes right back. It seems so utterly futile and I now completely understand my relative’s attitude, which I had thought was defiance but is actually just slightly sad resignation.
There are lots of types of psoriasis with lots of different causes which Wikipedia defines as such:
Psoriasis ( /səˈraɪ.əsɨs/) is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells as a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious.
In the summer, I spent a lot of time in flip-flops (as you do) and I did notice people checking out the patches of flaky skin. I mean, I get it, it’s not nice to look at but at the same time it’s not nice to have to cover up when it’s hot so I realised I was just going to have to put up with people’s looks. I can’t imagine what those looks must be like if the patches are all over your body, not just on your feet. People don’t think of a skin condition as being something serious, but in terms of how it makes you feel, even a minor case can have an impact on your mental state.
I spent summer looking at magazine covers proclaiming “GET SUMMER FEET IN FIVE EASY STEPS!” and I wondered on many an occasion if they had a section for me which involved chopping mine off and transplanting them with someone elses, someone’s who don’t crack, itch and bleed daily.
I suppose the reason I’m telling you all this is that I want you to know that if you see someone with psoriasis, yes, it probably does make them miserable, yes it probably itches like hell and yes, they can see you staring. Most importantly, NO, it’s not catching.
And as a lovely little book-end to the post, here’s a picture of my feet ON A GOOD DAY (notice areas of scab where I’ve scratched the layers of skin completely off) Nice, huh?
(Sausage just saw me uploading this picture and gagged. Actually, physically gagged.)