Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Psoriasis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Me and My Psoriasis

A patient describes her 20-year search for a psoriasis treatment.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's summer again, so while everyone else in Michigan, where I live, is shedding sweaters and jeans for tank tops and shorts, I'm looking for cover.

This is a yearly ritual, poring over catalogs in search of a breezy, near-ankle-length skirt and chic little cardigan to hide my patchy skin. Those bold-print maxi dresses that are in vogue could solve the problem, but really, how many yachting parties and clambakes do I attend?

Stubborn, stubborn psoriasis. You retreat with the sun's rays, but barely. You force me to explain that you're not contagious, just ugly, and to stand around in long skirts feeling like a priggish librarian among the happy, half-naked revelers around me.

It's been seven or eight years since I saw a dermatologist, and not because I like shopping for clothes so much. The last one went through the routine: a perfunctory look at my arms and legs, a scrawled prescription for a topical cream. Then a suggestion that I try a biologic medicine that wasn't developed for psoriasis but cleared up patients being treated with it for rheumatoid arthritis. I would have to inject it daily and it would cost around $1,200 per month.

Those two facts resounded: daily injections ad infinitum and another monthly mortgage payment.

Then: How long would I need to be on his medicine and what would it do to my liver?

Then: Was a smooth hide, one that wouldn't mark me as damaged, worth all the effort and expense?

I knew on the ride home that I had come to a turning point -- that I had to find another way to get clear after 20 years of treatment for an incurable disease.

Psoriasis is a disorder believed to involve the immune system in which skin cells rapidly produce at sites like joints, forming red or white patches; 4 to 5 million Americans have it in various forms, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Mine is mostly confined to my knuckles, knees, shins, and ankles.

When I was diagnosed in college, it was a serious blow to my vanity. I was young and eager to taste all the freedoms of life on campus, but my unsightly elbows and knuckles altered my direction. I grew cautious in romance, lived in long sleeves, and spent a lot of my waking hours at night with friends, watching obscure films and talking over endless cups of coffee. Intellectuals didn't spend time preening and buffing and tanning; our bodies were beside the point.

In the meantime, I cared deeply. I visited dermatologists, whom I suspected thought of psoriasis as a medieval curiosity. They didn't seem to know much about psoriasis and I didn't know anything -- nobody in my family has it -- except that I wanted to drive it away.

Top Psoriasis Treatments To Try At Home
Article
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Slideshow
 
Beware Miracle Diets For Psoriasis
Article
Psoriasis Laser Therapy
Video
 
10 Questions About Psoriasis To Ask Your Doctor
Article
psoriasis on elbow
Article
 
Psoriasis (Moderate to Severe)
Article
Psoriatic Arthritis Do You Know The Symptoms
Article