Damage limitation is the only cure for psoriasis
After years of trying to find a cure for psoriasis, I have learned to manage the condition
Model Cara Delevingne: Delevingne’s psoriasis flared up during London Fashion week, when covered in scabs she had to be painted with make-up for the catwalk. Photograph: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images
Arlene Harris: ‘I have learnt to live with psoriasis but in the meantime, my next worry is passing it on to my children.’
Delevingne’s psoriasis flared up during London Fashion week, when covered in scabs she had to be painted with make-up for the catwalk. Approximately 120,000 people in Ireland and 125 million worldwide struggle with the condition.
Having watched my older brother cope with psoriasis since he was a child, I was aware of how traumatic it can be but while sympathising with his plight over the years, I didn’t really empathise. How could I? I had never experienced the physical and emotional hold it can have over an otherwise sane person.
But my opinion changed when 15 years ago, I began to see the tell-tale signs appearing on my own skin, firstly on my scalp.
Resistant to steroids
My form of psoriasis is the most difficult of all to treat. It seems to be resistant to all of the steroid-based ointments which offer temporary reprieve to other parts of the body.
My little patch on the left side of my head quickly spread to cover my whole scalp. Initially I tried the whole range of specially medicated shampoos combined with topical treatments which stung like the blazes but were designed to “attack the root cause” and eradicate all traces of psoriasis.
From the best known brands to the most obscure products found on intensive internet searches, I have tried them all and have come to the conclusion that despite their claims of success, not one of them has the ability to make a blind bit of long-term difference (apart from to your bank balance).
My scalp was incessantly itchy and my once-thick hair had become lank and fine. I was at my wits’ end.
After several visits to my GP, I was referred to a specialist who prescribed a “revolutionary” new product which was “guaranteed” to reward me with a scale-free scalp.
I bought the product with great expectation. It was outrageously expensive and incredibly greasy. The instructions advised me not to use for more than a week at a time and in my haste to get on the road to recovery, I just scanned the side effects quickly before covering my head in the gooey gunk.
The product was disgusting, grease all over everything and despite washing my hair repeatedly each day I still looked like I had just taken my head out of a deep-fat fryer. But I was prepared to go the extra mile if it meant I would finally be free of scalp psoriasis.
And at the end of my seven-day application, a miracle happened. For the first time in a decade, my scalp was clear. I couldn’t believe it. How had I not discovered this before and saved myself years of misery? So I carried on, following the instructions which encouraged me to reduce the amount I was using bit by bit until I no longer needed it.