Psoriasis Too Shall Pass
It happened again. I couldn’t believe it. At first when it came on, I was confused and in disbelief. It was all over me and it kept spreading. “Rain drops” they called it - like these lesions or scales are some cute little badges you get to wear for a long time. Why did it make me so frustrated, so self-conscious, so sad and out of control.
This is my experience with guttate psoriasis.
I was 25 when I had my first, uh, “outbreak.” I was recovering from strep throat and had just finished taking a course of antibiotics. The pills were the size of an iPhone 6+ (with a Mophie case). I was so thankful that I finally started feeling like myself again after a week. A day or two after I finished the course of antibiotics, these little spots started appearing on my arms, thighs and legs. One by one, showing up in all different sizes, all the same red color. With every new spot, my internal voice started screaming, “What the? AHHHH! What’s happening to me?”
The next day, I went to the doctor and was told I had folliculitis, which is an inflammation of the hair follicles. I was prescribed yet another lovely dosage of iPhone 6+s. A week went by with little change. The only difference was that the spots on my left arm started to fade slightly. That weekend I was so happy to get a distraction from my body, as my sister was coming into town.
A little background story about my amazing, beautiful sister – when she was a baby, she was diagnosed with plaque psoriasis. Much of her early years, my mom would have to bathe her in tar, and lather her in lotion. None of this was particularly effective, and it was only after a family summer vacation to Spain (they lived in London) with long days on the beach, that the psoriasis disappeared. Shehas dealt with the condition ever since – sometimes for years at a time- before it goes away as mysteriously as it came.
I picked her up from the airport and was practically in tears to see her. I just wanted to cuddle her and hear from her that it would be all right (she’s my big sister and practically a second mom to me). She took one look at me and without missing a beat said, “You have psoriasis. We need to go in the sun.” That weekend we spent an hour or so in the sun each day and over a period of a few weeks, the lesions started to flatten, spread, turn white and, finally, disappear. It took a good month.
Fast forward to 11 years later. In late May of 2016, I noticed a minor sore throat in the middle of the night and a blocked ear. It carried on for a couple days and the ear bothered me more than the throat. I went to a walk-in clinic and they examined me and all was fine. I was told it was probably allergies. A week later, my throat became angry, swollen and red. I had strep throat again. During that time, I had a minor psoriasis flare up but was totally baffled by it. At the time I didn’t make the connection.
I was prescribed the iPhone 6+s and was healed within a week. Then the bomb dropped. The badges appeared, but this time not just on my legs, but also on my arms, thighs, calves, feet, back and chest. Spots everywhere. The sadness crept up again. The frustration and out of control feeling consumed me. I cried to my sister and drove to the doctor, who prescribed me a tiny tube of corticosteroid cream. The tiny bottle lasted two days – I was so mad. Mind you, I am over 6 feet tall, but this tube couldn’t cover the smallest of people. A couple days later I went to my dermatologist. She asked me what was going on. I immediately told her I had guttate psoriasis that was brought on by strep throat. I was given a prescription for a much larger tub of corticosteroid cream (thank goodness.) She, too, told me to go into the sun (following the usual sun safety guidelines) to help treat the psoriasis.
One evening, I took a picture of my legs and posted it on Facebook. The title of the post was “Seeing spots.” I am not sure what drove me to do it, as I was embarrassed by the spots, but in my sadness, I wanted to maybe bring some humor to the situation, hence the title of the post. I was floored by how compassionate people left supportive comments and well wishes. I was surprised at the amount of comments that were left.
There are many people who live with some form of psoriasis. Many cases are much worse than mine and people struggle to find the best treatment for them. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis and, while it occurs in all age groups, it is primarily seen in adults.
The exact cause of psoriasis is not known but does involve a problem with a person’s immune system response. Your immune system’s job with regards to your T-cells is to attack foreign organisms to keep you healthy. In the case of people living with psoriasis, the T-cells are mistakenly attacking healthy skin cells, which leads to the overproduction of new skin cells, T-cells, and white blood cells. This allows dead skin cells to collect. The accumulation creates the scaly, red patches or lesions seen in psoriasis.
Some other facts about psoriasis are:
- It is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease (IMID)
- It is NOT contagious, just annoying (and often, heartbreaking)
- It affects all genders and ethnicities
- Everyone deals with it differently and there are a variety of treatmentsto help but it’s different for everyone as to which treatment is best for you
- Things that can cause psoriasis to worsen are infections, stress, changes in weather that dry the skin (like winter) and even some medications
If you or a loved one has psoriasis, the best thing you can do is just hold their hand and reassure them that no matter what their skin looks like, it doesn’t define them. Personally, I found that telling people what it is helps me. Some may say don’t mention it and attention won’t be drawn, but these spots are so visual, I prefer just to tell people to clear the air because I know they are looking and wondering. If they’re not, I still assume they are or will eventually notice so just pointing it out will clear the air. But everyone deals with it differently.
There are even support groups for people living with psoriasis, so you’re not alone. While I am not a doctor, I live with it, so feel free to reach out to me on social media if you just want to chat (@TallChickVic), as I am always looking into how others deal with it.
Yes, even as I write this blog I am still waiting for all the spots to disappear. It’s been over a month, but I know “psoriasis too shall pass.”
Filed under: Healthy Living
Victoria Edwards is the Digital Content Strategist for Florida Blue. You can find her tweeting on her own personal handle at, @TallChickVic. When she’s not working on content or social media, she loves blogging for other online publications, like Search Engine Watch or keeping fit by running, playing tennis or swimming.