Psoriasis: Out of the darkness
Recently, a CNN anchor by the name of Zain Verjee wrote an article detailing a skin condition that she had been hiding for years: psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a treatable, but not curable, skin condition that is characterized by itchy, red, scaly, flaky skin, though it can also show up in patches or plaques. It can occur anywhere on the skin, and on fingernails and the scalp. At times it can go into remission and flare up again, especially in times of stress.
Doctors are still trying to understand psoriasis, but they have found that psoriasis has some nasty comorbidities associated with it, including increased risks of strokes, heart disease, skin cancers. For those who are young and have it, it’s a huge blow to one’s self-esteem. In 2009 the National Psoriasis Foundation surveyed over 400 sufferers. Of those surveyed, 71 percent reported that it was very problematic; 58 percent were embarrassed by it; more than a third avoided social activities, including anything involving intimacy or dating.
Verjee isn’t the only one. Several celebrities have admitted to having psoriasis, including Stacy London, of “What Not to Wear” fame; Art Garfunkel; Jerry Mathers, a/k/a “Beaver” from “Leave it to Beaver”; “America’s Next Top Model” winner Caridee English; Jon Lovitz and Kim Kardashian. There’s another name that can be added to that list too: mine.
I have psoriasis of the scalp, and it was very embarrassing when I was younger. I’d wear dark clothing in school, and by mid-afternoon what would look like dandruff would be all over my shoulders. I would itch and scratch to the point where at least one of the hairs on my head would fall out.
In fifth grade and tenth grade it was in remission. When I was in my sophomore/junior year of college, it got worse. I would frequently itch, and to treat it I would use this brown, gooey stuff that would provide temporary relief, but it smelled awful. (I stopped using that brown stuff though, and I’ve switched to salicylic acid. It feels a lot better, and it doesn’t stink as bad.)
But there’s hope out there, if you suffer from psoriasis. Sometimes you may feel like nothing you’re doing is working, like you’ve tried everything in the book. Odds are you haven’t. You got to find something that works for you and stick to it. There are also some homeopathic remedies coming out of the woodwork now, like salt from the Dead Sea and products made from colloidal silver, emu and olive oils, and probiotics (like lactobacillus). I haven’t tried them yet, but some of the things I’ve been reading on the Internet about them look promising. There are also communities of thousands of people on the Internet who have psoriasis. They too know about the disease, they know what you’re going through.