On the subway one day this past summer, a teenage boy in shorts and a t-shirt was standing nearby. Nothing was unusual about his clothing, but his exposed skin was a different matter. A redhead, the boy had a very pale complexion in a few spots. The rest – on his neck, all over his arms and legs – was violently red and patchy and scaly and looked so painful that I wanted to cry and take him shopping for soothing skincare. I wondered whether a girl with an angry case of psoriasis like his would be out in shorts and a tee. Probably not. In fact, a survey conducted by the Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients reveals that psoriasis devastates self-esteem in afflicted women, and affects their relationships too.
psoriasis and self-confidence: unsexy time
If you aren't familiar with the condition, hit this link to see google images of psoriasis-affected skin. An inflammatory disorder that affects 3 in every 100 Canadians, psoriasis is characterized by itchy, scaly, angry red and crusty patches that can cover small and vast areas of the body. (If you remember, a while back, Kim Kardashian revealed that she has psoriasis.)
From a recent survey of women suffering from psoriasis, the Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients (CAPP) has released the following stats (infographic via communautepsoriasis.ca):
- 85 per cent of women stricken with psoriasis choose clothing that conceals as much of their affected skin as possible
- 51 per cent of women with psoriasis sometimes say no to sex because of their skin
- 10 per cent of women who suffer from psoriasis would prefer wrinkles instead
- 80 per cent of women with psoriasis would rather cope with grey hair
- 79 per cent of women afflicted with psoriasis say it negatively affects their emotional well-being
- more than 80 percent of women who have psoriasis say their condition increases their stress levels
- about 80 percent of women with psoriasis says it prevents them from feeling sexy "sometimes," "often" or "very often"
And the only thing that rates lower on the self-esteem scale than having psoriasis is acne.
tlc for psoriasis-afflicted skin
There is still no universal cure for psoriasis, but we can't leave you without some suggestions to help you cope. That's just mean. Treatment options are available via a physician, and new ones are apparently always in the works. As well, there are some things you can do at home. Skincare advice at communautepsoriasis.ca includes the following:
gently does it
- choose mild cleansers and soaps
- reduce the temperature of your shower to warm, not hot – hot water will strip skin of vital natural oils and moisture and exacerbate psoriasis
- opt for unscented, fragrance-free and alcohol-free skincare
- wear loose clothing to reduce friction on skin – anything tight, including wristbands, jewelry, even shoes, can irritate
- keep nails short with smooth edges, and try not to scratch or pick or cause further injury to skin
hydrated skin is happier skin
- before using moisturizer, try first misting skin lightly with pure, fragrance-free thermal spring water – Avene makes a good one that helps calm irritated skin, as does La Roche-Posay – and patting it into skin for an extra dose of hydration
- apply moisturizer or balm to damp skin to help lock moisture in
- try medical-grade lanolin – it's sticky, yes, and needs to be warmed between your hands before it's massaged into skin, but it's also a humectant that attracts moisture, which psoriasis-stricken skin desperately needs. Med-grade lanolin has been thoroughly purified; it's used in hospitals over wounds to protect skin, reinforce the moisture barrier and foster healing
- if lanolin isn't an option for you, make super-moisturizing balms, body lotions and/or creams a never-skip-it part of your daily regimen
- use a humidifier in the dry months of the year
- try "occlusion therapy" sessions – wrap moisturized areas of skin in a tensor bandage, or fabric, or plastic to prolong high levels of moisture
keep up with the meds
- follow instructions carefully regarding topical treatments and medication
- carefully prep skin to benefit from treatments: soften crusts and scales in order to remove them gently so skin can better absorb moisturizer/medication
Do any of you suffer from psoriasis? (I'm so sorry if you do.) What do you use to cleanse and moisturize effectively? How do you cope?