Mark C., 45, Psoriasis
How would you explain psoriasis to a child?
Psoriasis is a condition that affects some people's skin. It happens when our body's defense system, which usually helps protect us from getting sick, gets a bit mixed up and starts working too fast. So instead of fighting germs, it accidentally targets our skin cells.
When this happens, our skin cells grow faster than they should, and they start to pile up on the surface of our skin. This creates patches that can be red, itchy, and/or dry. These patches can show up on different parts of the body, like elbows, knees, face or scalp. It can even show up on your fingernails or toenails causing them to be rough and bumpy instead of smooth!
What would you want the world to know about psoriasis?
First and foremost psoriasis is not contagious, like a cold or the flu. It's just a skin condition that some people have to deal with. Some mistakenly think psoriasis is a result of poor hygiene, but that is not true. It is an autoimmune condition that is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. And while there is no cure there are various treatments and medicines that can help people with psoriasis feel better and make their skin look better. Psoriasis is also a bit unpredictable, it affects everyone differently and even when you do have it, "flare-ups" can be random.
What does it feel like to live with psoriasis?
I noticed my first symptoms ("pitting" on one of my fingernails) when I was around 17 years old. As psoriasis affects people differently it is often misdiagnosed in the early stages. I was often told mine was bacterial or fungal. It wasn't until three to four years later as my symptoms worsened that I was told it was psoriasis. After being diagnosed, I tried various topical ointments and even light therapy but to no avail. Another two to three years had passed when I found a medication that worked for me (a biologic medication administered via injection). I share this to illustrate the finicky nature of psoriasis and the frustration that can result.
Currently, happy to say I am almost completely symptom free (as long as I take my medication that is). However, recall psoriasis affects each person uniquely. Many living with psoriasis can feel physical discomfort ranging from mild to severe, which can affect their daily activities. There can also be a significant emotional impact. The visible nature of psoriasis can lead to feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment. (I didn't wear shorts for a couple of years until I started the biologic medication which cleared my symptoms!)
It's also important to remember that everyone's skin is unique, and it's okay to have differences. Which is why we should always treat others with kindness and understanding, no matter how their skin looks.
What brings you joy?
Simple things in life bring me joy. Spending time with my daughter, my family, my friends and my dog are top of the list. I love seeing them all happy and if I can be a small part in making that happen, even better! Others making the list (in no particular order): playing almost any sport, watching almost any sport (ideally in some sort of outside venue), teaching someone something new, learning something new, a well balanced cocktail, really good coconut ice cream, and I'm illogically obsessed with really good weather!