50 for 50 Project

For our 50th Anniversary year (2018 - 2019), we shared more than 50 people's stories of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis!

We recently celebrated our 50th year here at the Psoriasis Association! A key part of our work over the last half a century has been to raise awareness of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and help give a voice to people who live with both conditions. As such, we thought 'what better way to celebrate our 50th year than by sharing 50 people's stories of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis?'

You can read all the stories below. 

If you'd like to take part and share your own story, you can find out how to get involved here.

Afsah's Story

I have had pustulosa psoriasis for the last 17 years and it's been really hard. I was born in France but the treatment was not good over there, so the French doctors recommended to go to England and get treated, and we moved to England.

I got bullied and lost tons of friends during primary school just because of my psoriasis, people were scared that they would get psoriasis and that made me depressed, so after a few years we went back to France to live there. But going back was a big mistake, my skin was so bad that I stayed in hospital for almost 2 years. Even if I went to college in France, people would punch me, kick me and take all my blood out, just because of psoriasis! I honestly felt like giving up, I felt like a dead fish.

So after 2 years of torture we left France and hopefully we are here forever. I went to high school for 2 years and my psoriasis was terrible, I caught pneumonia and that made my life soo hard because I didn't get my GCSEs in maths and English, I still got 6 GCSEs.

In 2018 the whole year my skin was perfect, I did one year of college without any stress, but as soon as 2019 came my skin is as bad as it can get... I am not feeling good at all, I am depressed but I am going to the gym which is helping me soooo much. My personal trainer and my gym has changed my life sooo much... I just want to say to people with psoriasis it's hard but try to be #happywithpsoriasis because I think it shows how much God loves us.

Aimee's Story

Hi, I’m Aimee Grace. I first noticed small patches of psoriasis at the age of 14. For the last 18 years my psoriasis has always been contained to a few small patches on elbows and scalp. Then in February this year, after contracting tonsillitis in early January, and after a good friend of mine hurting me and causing me a lot of stress, I began getting a few little spots on my forehead. This was initially diagnosed as chicken pox until 2 weeks later when the spots rapidly spread and I went back to my GP to be informed it was guttate psoriasis.

I immediately did my research when I got home and realised it was not too common on the face and I broke down. I am only 32 and single and the idea of looking like this for the foreseeable future was gutting. I felt ugly. Who would love this face?!

My psoriasis is all over my body and face, it affects some places more than others. My skin is constantly burning, itchy and tight. To some people psoriasis seems so trivial but it isn’t, it's agonising and uncomfortable and I can totally understand why some people struggle with mental health issues because of it.

I was extremely lucky, after only a couple of weeks I found a strength in me that made me share a photo on my Instagram account. I knew I physically couldn't hide my face, so I had no choice but to face it head on! I couldn’t believe the kindness I received, so much support and love out there. Do not get me wrong, I’ve suffered horrendous abuse, including death threats, with some people telling me to take my own life. But the overwhelming kindness from 95% of people completely outweighs the bad.

Since then I have received many private messages from other psoriasis warriors who cannot leave the house and some who want to commit suicide. They tell me I have helped them to face their fears and stay strong. This is my calling, I just want to keep supporting others and helping them to battle through and find their strength.

I have been extremely lucky when it comes to treatment. My GP overloaded me with prescriptions - I am currently using 15 prescribed ointments and lotions - so my amazing company offered to pay for me to visit a private doctor. 3 weeks later I’m in hospital being told that the waiting list even privately is 4-5 months, but due to the severity of my condition I have been moved to the top of the NHS list and start my light therapy next week! So after expecting to pay £850 and wait 4 months, it’s now free and next week! This makes me so happy. Fingers crossed!

Alice's Story

It all started when I was 13, my scalp was always itchy, bleeding and flaky. I thought nothing of it and continued to go on using anti-dandruff shampoo, assuming that was what was wrong with me. It wasn’t until I was 17 and was having an ear examination when the doctor said to me “I can’t give you this medication because of your psoriasis” I’d never heard of psoriasis and assumed it was the name of a bone in my ear... The doctor then explained to me that it was a skin condition which I suffered from on my scalp, ears, face.

Over the next year or so my psoriasis spread to my arms, stomach and back while getting worse on my face. I saw numerous dermatologists, it didn’t help that it was at a time when I was moving away for university so I couldn’t keep one doctor.

Then for the next two years I switched medications countless times, even to steroid based creams. It wasn’t until this summer where I worked outdoors while the UK was struck with a heatwave that my psoriasis cleared completely. At this point I realised sunshine was the best medicine, but sadly living in the UK, the weather isn’t always the greatest.

I found it very difficult when my psoriasis got very bad on my face as throughout my teenage years I was very insecure. It got to a point where I would plaster makeup on my face to hide it. Recently, I’ve come to terms with my face and that the redness of the psoriasis comes and goes. I have set up an Instagram to share my experience with psoriasis and which makeup works best to cover it without making it irritated. Hopefully, those using makeup will one day be able to take the leap and go bare faced too! 

Alicja's Story

My life with psoriasis had started a week before my 18th birthday and the first thought I got in my head was "I cannot be a blood donor”, which was my dream for many years. I cried because of it, not because I heard I’m ill. Not even one member of my family has psoriasis, so everyone was shocked when I got this information from my doctor.

At the beginning, there were only a few spots on my elbows (of course they gave me steroid creams) but with time they started to spread.

I didn’t know where to find physical and psychological help. I know that I’m stronger than my illness but still, there were moments when I felt like a loser because of ps. My hobby is cosplay, so it was quite obvious that my appearance means even more to me. I started to hold back with my hobby.

Last year I started a second major of studies and this was my breaking point. I work so hard for everything, but my psoriasis was in the worst state ever. In the morning I had to wait to move my arm because everything was hurting and cracking so much. I got used to itching and bleeding. I decided to change it, give myself some time.

I gave up on my second major. I started a diet, new way of thinking and it's working. Of course, not every spot back to normal and I have to wait for results, but I was getting better! I came back to cosplay, even became a Polish representative in the European cosplay contest, C4 2017.

Nowadays, I am an active member in a Polish support group, and have had many positive comments on my post about my hobby and “not giving up”. This is why I started the social project #JestemBiedronką which means "I'm a ladybug" (something like a cute nickname for psoriasis warrior). I want to show people that they are beautiful and they can achieve their goals.

We did 2 photo sessions with Szkoła Kreatywnej Fotografii in Cracow, and now we are waiting for our first exhibition - 14th May. We are more than amazed by responses on our fanpage - more than 80,000 people have seen our content! Not only in Poland but around the world. Even if we are just a little drop of water in the process of changing social perspectives of psoriasis, we are really glad we did it. This project has changed me and given me more strength than any other treatment, even if my skin looks worse then half a year ago, I'm accepting it.

Photo credit: Agata Lazar, Make up: Maja Bławuciak 

  • Afsah
  • Aimee
  • Alice
  • Alicja

Andy's Story

My name is Andy and I’m 52 years old. I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 12 years old. My psoriasis started as a small patch on my left arm. I was seen by a doctor for a few months before being referred to a Dermatologist whom confirmed the diagnosis. I was prescribed some ointments and creams and told to get plenty of sunshine on the affected skin.

As time passed, the creams became ineffective and several more patches appeared all over my body. By the time I was 16 years old I was very self-conscious and depressed. All my friends at the time were enjoying parties and beginning to have relationships. My life at the time had become very isolated and I had shut myself away from the world.

I remember my parents taking me to the seaside one summer. On the beach people stared at me and I became very upset. I locked myself in my father’s car and refused to come out. At home I would cover up all my affected skin and stay in my room. All my school work suffered and I argued with my parents regularly. I became very lonely and isolated.

I was given another appointment with a Dermatologist. This time he discussed the use of oral treatments to reduce the skin coverage. I began taking the medicine and for a few years my life seemed back on track. I was able to get out more and started working for a company that sponsored me to return to college.

Life at this time was much better. I enjoyed my life more and began going out and socialising. Then early on in my twenties I experienced the first of many severe flare ups. I began intensive cream treatments daily and the oral medicines were increased.

I was working in a hospital at the time with long shifts and difficult work. I met someone and for the first time was enjoying being in love. Then one day I woke up and I was feeling very ill. I had to take time off work and go for various tests. It was decided to stop the oral treatment to give my body a break.

The result then was a massive flare up with 80% of my body covered in psoriasis. I had a fever and my body temperature increased. The psoriasis became inflamed, scarlet red and very sore. I collapsed and was admitted to hospital as an emergency patient.

I was to remain in hospital for 3 months while the doctors tried to stabilise me. I lost my job and eventually my new relationship ended. I became extremely depressed and angry with my life. The result of this was to be the first attempt to end my life.

I did eventually stabilise with a lot of medical help. My life then became an endless cycle of topical and oral treatments. I did manage to return to work for a while. But I ended up needing a lot of psychological treatment and my medicines needed reviewing regularly. The strong medicines eventually damaged my liver. I still have to visit a liver doctor yearly to check on the status of the damage.

I was able to work for a long time until I collapsed at work one day. I had been experiencing a lot of joint pain and extreme tiredness at the time. I thought I had picked up flu bug. But this episode was to last for several months. I was eventually so bad I took to my bed and remained there for two years. I was referred back to the hospital several times before a Rheumatologist diagnosed I had psoriatic arthritis.

None of the oral medication worked and, after losing my job, I became unable to work. I had periods of time when I was better but no one would employ me. After about 200 employment rejections my depression returned and I became isolated again.

After a few exhausting years of struggling, I was finally accepted to try a new treatment. I began using biological treatments which gave me a better quality of life. I experienced many side effects and a lot of exhaustion during this time.

During the last 10 years I have used several different types of biological treatments. My life at the moment is much better with the help of biological treatments. I still suffer with a lot of daily pain and awful tiredness. But without these treatments I would be much worse off.

I used to hate psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. They have made my life very difficult and often unbearable. But more modern and effective treatments have eased my burden. I still have plenty of bad days but I have become much stronger in my mind. A great turning around point for me was to eventually realise that I can love and accept myself with this condition.

The Psoriasis Association has reached 50 years old on its mission to tell the world all about psoriasis. It has achieved great things along the way. I’m glad it still exists to promote a much better understanding of this awful condition.

This is my story about living with psoriasis for nearly 40 years. I hope by telling my story it will give those that read it a better understanding of what it is like to live with psoriasis.

Anne-Marie's Story

I was first diagnosed with guttate psoriasis when I was 3 years old - 50 years ago. It isn't isolated to any one part of my body but can appear anywhere.

Back in the early days the treatment was very basic, betnovate scalp application and coal tar ointment. This treatment continued through my school days and I lived with taunts of 'flaky, scabby and spotty'. Nowadays this would be classed as bullying, back then it was something you got used to.

School life was difficult and as I hit my teenage years I would find any excuse not to do sport because I didn't want people to see my skin. The emotional support wasn't there then and following my O levels I had my worst break out and was admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary. This was to be the first of many visits as an in-patient. What I didn’t know was a newly qualified nurse with 2 small boys would be a part of my psoriasis journey to this day and she is now my specialist nurse.

Over the years the treatments have progressed and I've tried everything, steroid creams, UVA (which I still have), PUVA, ciclosporin and methotrexate all to no avail. The only time in 50 years that I have been clear was through both of my pregnancies.

In 2008 biological drugs were introduced to me and they have changed my life. All has not gone smoothly. I started with Etanercept but this stopped working after a while so I moved onto Humira. This also stopped working. Next step was Cosentyx but this made me feel generally unwell. I'm now on Otezla and although not 100% clear I'm not far off and feel the best I have for a long time.

The psychological effect of psoriasis is immense, not only for the sufferer but for families and friends. Until you live with psoriasis you can never understand how time consuming the management of it can be. Moisturising alone takes up a massive amount of time daily, let alone the application of creams.

We are surrounded by pictures in magazines and on the TV of the 'perfect body'. Learning to live with what the media perceives as imperfect puts immense pressure on psoriasis sufferers, but a social media group called 'get your skin out' has encouraged me to put my skin out there. After all nobody is perfect and beauty is skin deep.

Learning more recently that psoriasis is an auto-immune disease has made it easier to deal with. I know stress aggravates it and I know rest is important to help keep it stable. Above all else psoriasis is part of me. I have never accepted it. I have good days and bad days and I am finally learning to live with it. I couldn't do this without my family, my specialist nurse and the dermatology department of my local hospital.

Anonymous Story

I've tried most things from creams and ointments, to light treatment (UVB and UVA), to oral medication (tablets), to biologic medication (injections).

I first noticed signs of psoriasis about 6 years ago. Small blobs of dry skin started to form on various parts of my body. Initially I went to my doctors and was given some creams to try. The creams and ointments have never worked for me! As a child up until this point I had very clear skin, not even a spot in sight, so to see these patches forming was a massive shock. My psoriasis got worse by the day and was becoming painful.

At this point I was referred to the dermatologist at my local hospital. I am still under their care today. Various assessments of my skin were conducted, they felt intrusive and uncomfortable. I was in my early teens at this point so being in a hospital was the last place I wanted to be.

For about another year I was given different creams and ointments to try. I have plaque psoriasis and it was everywhere, on my arms and legs from top to bottom, on my back, on my face, behind my ears, in my scalp, it was even on my hands at one point. Being a teenager in secondary school this was the last thing I wanted.

After all the creams and ointments did nothing, they recommended I try UVB light treatment. I did this three times a week for a number of months. As you can imagine it was very draining, however it did work to a certain extent. My skin got better and what was thick plaques turned into red marks which weren’t painful. Eventually I was told to come off light treatment and at this point I thought I was cured. I was so wrong. After a few weeks it came back very bad again and in places it wasn’t before.

A number of months passed and I was told to try UVA light treatment. I tried this too. I was extremely sceptical however I was prepared to try anything to relieve the pain. My skin was so bad I’d have to change my bedsheets sometimes daily because my skin would bleed. I had to get dressed in a separate room for sports at school. All of this put together was mentally and physically draining.

UVA did work a lot quicker and I did this for many months too 'til my skin got better. Again, the same thing happened once I stopped treatment, my psoriasis came back again. At this point I did not want to go back to the hospital however I was encouraged to go and it was suggested that I start methotrexate (tablets).

I was on methotrexate for about a year, however the side effects at this point were becoming severe so I came off it. For months I was medication free, however in a month or so my skin got worse and worse as I was not treating it. At this point I had done my GCSEs and was starting my A levels. I had to wait for my skin to get to a certain stage before it could be ‘assessed/graded’ again. Personally I found this very dehumanising as they were measuring my pain to a number on a page from what they could see.

When my skin got severe again I had to fight for something other than oral medication as I did not want to go back on medication that made me unwell. I was still classed as a child at this stage so a lot of medication was age restricted. Eventually they agreed to let me start Humira and self-inject. Although this may seem scary I was at the point of giving anything new a try as I had fought for years already. I am still currently on Humira and it works very well for me! It has been a life saver; my skin has become clear with just a few patches remaining! I still have check-ups and regular blood tests with the dermatology unit.

One thing I would say to anyone is don’t let your psoriasis defeat you. It is draining however you have to fight for what you feel you need! Despite the challenge of living with psoriasis I have achieved a lot. I passed all my exams and am studying at university now, so you can still achieve; you have to want to though!

Sorry this is long but my journey has been long and I’ve tried so many things! I hope you can gain something from me sharing my story!

Anonymous Story 2

I am a 50 year old lady. I was not born with psoriasis. Nobody in my family has it. I guess I got it because I was bullied at work. It was a very stressful time and I was so unhappy. I had this colleague who was no good at her job but as she was insecure, she spent her days attacking me. My boss was friends with her and duplicitous. Looking back, I wish I had left the job but as I have never been in that kind of situation before, I did not have the courage to just up and leave.

Psoriasis developed very quickly with patches on my spine and over my body. Then it was on my scalp. It was itchy. My hair started falling out. I hurried to a big department store and bought a wig. It was expensive and it did not suit me. I wondered what my colleagues thought. Nobody commented but I hated wearing a wig. I was constantly worried that it would fall off and it was very uncomfortable in hot weather. A few months later, I graduated onto tailor made real hair wigs. That fitted better but was still uncomfortable.

I tried going to the Dead Sea. I went on my own to the Jordan side for about 10 days. That was not a relaxing experience as one had to spend quite a lot of time sunbathing or soaking in the sea. It did not work for me.

I was given lotions and potions, UVB therapy and methotrexate. None of that worked. About a year later, I developed psoriatic arthritis which made it hard to walk. I certainly could not run or dance. Those were the dark days. I had dull pain because of the arthritis.

After about 4 years and trying different drugs, one day I met a new doctor at the hospital who said that he would take over my case. His name is Dr Adam Friedmann. He encouraged me to try new drugs and when they failed, he encouraged me to try another one. I tried the biologic, Stelara, which did not work for me. He encouraged me to try Cosentyx which nearly cleared my problems. I now have over 95% clear skin and I can go swimming without being self-conscious about my appearance. My psoriatic arthritis has gone and I no longer have to wear a wig.

I am very grateful to Dr Friedmann for his care as my dermatologist. I was so fed up after the first biologic failed that without his encouragement, I would not have moved onto the next one (which did work for me).

I have been on Cosentyx for over two years now. I accept that it is a new drug and there is not a great deal of patient data as to its side effects. However, I take the chance as I would much rather take the risk and minimise the effect of psoriasis in my life.

  • Andy
  • Anne-Marie
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous 2

Benjamin's Story

Soo... It all started back in 2009 when I was in Maths, I was just 15 at the time. I noticed my head felt quite itchy, so not thinking much of it I gave it a scratch; as I scratched more and more I noticed what I thought at the time was dandruff all over my workbook. I felt really embarrassed as it was clearly noticeable when I checked my head in the mirror. That night I got home and asked my mum to check my hair... she said it looked like something called ‘Ringworm’. She then booked me a doctor’s appointment for the following week.

When I saw my GP, he said it was something called scalp psoriasis, and that it could be controlled but wasn’t curable. I remember thinking at the time I wish it was that blasted worm thing my mum had previously mentioned. I managed to control the scalp psoriasis with ‘Betnovate scalp application’ and, even to this day nearly ten years later, I still use it now and then when it appears to get sore.

A few months after discovering I had scalp psoriasis, I noticed a few pink patches on my arm and on my torso. I went back to the doctors and he confirmed that those were also patches of psoriasis, and gave me what was then ‘Dovonex Cream’ (now only in ointment form in the UK I believe), to put on the plaques. The patches didn’t appear to go down much, however it managed to control some of the patches over the next four or five years and reduce some of the redness of others.

At the age of 20 I went back to the doctors as I was unable to control my psoriasis with ‘Dovonex’, so was then given ‘Dovobet gel’. I wasn’t given any instructions other than to apply it once at night. Unfortunately, being a bit naive at the time I didn’t do any research and wasn’t aware to have a break from using it. After using it constantly for two, maybe two and half years I was having a constant flare up. I managed to get a doctor to refer me to a dermatologist.

After waiting 5-6 months for the appointment, I was put back on Dovonex and then ‘Enstilar foam’ (and also told my severity of psoriasis is mild and that I should cheer up). Unfortunately for me the Enstilar foam also made me flare up the moment I came off of it. I then tried to get another dermatology appointment as I wasn’t happy with the dermatologist that I saw. I was given an appointment but it was another 6 month wait. In the meantime I paid to go privately but was told there wasn’t anything that they could do.

I eventually got round to seeing a new dermatologist about four weeks ago... finally I feel like someone actually cares and listened to what I had to say. I’ve been referred for UVB treatment twice a week, and am currently on my fifth session. I haven’t noticed much improvement yet but I’m hoping it’s still early days.

I would like to thank the Instagram community, because without being able to speak to others I wouldn’t have been able to keep sane at times. My wife is very supportive, however it’s nice to speak and hear from like-minded people. I recently set up my own Instagram page to share my journey with others: @benjaminpsoriasis.  

Beth's Story

When I was told I had psoriasis, I had no idea what it was or even how to spell it. All I knew was it was something to do with my immune system, it was giving me tiny, red blotches all over my body and that there was no cure. At 22, I had a lifelong disease that I was going to have to learn to manage – the future suddenly looked a lot less rosy and distinctly more red and dotty (and itchy!). My psoriasis appeared all over my body during my final set of exams at university so could’ve been triggered by stress but, with no family history of psoriasis, I was totally lost.

After almost a year of my skin getting progressively worse, I had been through steroid withdrawal, many dismissive GP appointments and the horror that is winter with the world’s driest skin. I eventually got a dermatology appointment at the local hospital and was put on the waiting list for UVB light therapy treatment. This was when I came across the psoriasis community on Instagram and the #getyourskinout campaign, and my views on my psoriasis completely changed – I wanted to embrace my skin just like all these other people were doing. I realised my happiness was not based on how clear my skin was but the difference I could make by sharing my story.

I’ve had psoriasis for two years now and have since completed two bouts of UVB light therapy which has been a huge help in keeping my psoriasis under control. Psoriasis is all about trial-and-error and finding treatments that work for you and your life, as well as being open to creating a new lifestyle that incorporates your skincare and health needs. I’ve found that exercise is a huge help – I joined the local dodgeball team and this has helped boost my mood, confidence and energy levels (I really struggle with fatigue and complete lack of motivation), as well as pushing me to continue to show my skin.

I’ve also realised how important it is to educate yourself about psoriasis and share this with others. As a journalism graduate, a blog was always on the cards for after university but I never imagined it would be focused on psoriasis! I created Blotch (blotchblog.com) as a creative outlet for me to keep track of my skincare and help with my mental health, and to support others who might have felt lost and alone, just like I did, following a psoriasis diagnosis.

Bex' Story

Hi, my name is Bex. I am 27 years old now and have had psoriasis since I was 9 years old. It started a bit like an explosion and before I knew it my whole body and face was covered apart from my hands and feet!

I was taken out of school in the mornings for weeks to have light and tar treatment at hospital. My primary school were great and allowed me to wear a bandana over my scalp and forehead. Eventually it calmed to a manageable level and I grew up treating it topically. I got on alright but dark school uniform and scalp psoriasis was a nightmare!

When I turned 26 I found myself recovering from very stressful personal events and my skin went crazy. For the first time since I was 9, I went for 6 weeks of light therapy. It cleared my skin pretty well but it started coming back within weeks of stopping. I am lucky in a way having had psoriasis since I was little, I don’t know any other way and for the most part do not feel too overwhelmed by psoriasis. Although it does make my love for black clothes rather frustrating!

Healthy eating and exercise has genuinely helped my mental health and I find routines help to manage my skin. Be that meals, exercise, ointments, natural moisturisers and sun light. I still fight like mad with steroid/vitamin D ointment to keep it from going from my scalp to my face! For anyone who feels overwhelmed right now, I know where you are but psoriasis has its ups and downs. Don’t let it control who you want to be. Be kind to yourself always! ❤ #getyourskinout

Charlotte's Story

It feels like I have had psoriasis since the day I was born. I do not remember having a single day of my life without having to check for flakes on my clothes or a single holiday without a suitcase of magic potions in my bag. I am currently 25 and have tried most treatments. My psoriasis has a mind of its own and I’ve grown to accept it and its flamboyant nature.

I have never let my psoriasis define who I am or govern my life. The first time it ever stopped me doing anything in my life was when I wanted to join the RAF. I was angry, I felt as though they did not understand the condition, they had no right to preclude entry because of the condition! Did they truly understand? If they did, I felt as though they would have seen past my skin.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after a lengthy conversation with a recruitment officer they finally made me understand by asking me that ‘If I had none or ran out of medication whilst in the field, would I be able to continue?’ I answered, 'yes!' However, I suddenly saw it from their point of view and thought that maybe becoming a firefighter would be better!

I try to think positively about my psoriasis and sometimes forget I even have it. However, I cannot deny that it does mentally affect me if I am stressed or upset about anything, my skin knows before I do! I get most upset when I hear distressing stories of other people suffering with the condition. My heart hurts and I just want to do something to help. It’s not right that people are suffering in silence, the general public should know the damage their looks can cause.

So, I am doing something to help! I am currently organising an expedition to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with others who have the condition. To show the world that yes, we have psoriasis, but do not judge us by our skin, judge us by our strength and determination to overcome our trials and tribulations! There is much more Beneath the Skin!

If anyone would like to know more about the expedition, they are welcome to contact me. 

  • Benjamin
  • Beth
  • Bex
  • Charlotte

Corrinne's Story

Hi. My name is Corrinne and I have had psoriasis for 20 years now. I first noticed red patches forming on my elbows when I was 16 years old. I went to the doctor for them to confirm what I already knew. They say psoriasis can be hereditary and my dad has it also. Seems I got the lucky gene. Having psoriasis at such a young age wasn’t too difficult for me as it seemed to be solely on my elbows, which I covered up with long sleeves. As the years went on I started to notice patches appearing on my knees. I hated this. As a young girl wanting to go out into town dressed up I felt I was limited to wearing trousers so people didn’t stare, point or ask too many questions. At 18 I started using steroid cream to help maintain my patches. They never went away.

At the age of 19 I started to work in a private nursery. I loved it and was gaining more confidence within myself more and more each day. The trouble with working in a nursery is you catch everything and for someone with psoriasis this isn’t good! I developed tonsillitis twice in the space of two weeks. After that cleared up I noticed a small red patch forming on my stomach. I thought “oh great!” Then after a week I had lots of patches of various sizes all over my stomach. It then spread all over my legs, arms, back and scalp. I hated it. I wouldn’t go out. I cried most nights because of it. I didn’t even want to go to the doctor for help. I stayed with those patches for 2 years. I tried steroid cream to maintain it but there was far too much to handle. I even tried sitting in a bath of dried seaweed powder because a stall owner promised me it would get rid of my problem! It didn’t!

At 21 I fell pregnant with my first son. To my amazement all of the psoriasis I had over my entire body disappeared! For the first time in years I felt amazing! After I had my son it slowly came back on my knees and elbows which I thought I could handle. I didn’t really have time to think about it. For 3 years it stayed like that. Then after I had my daughter it got worse again. I ended up with it all over me again due to being ill quite often. I went to the doctor this time and they referred me for UVB treatment. That worked a treat. It all went away again. For a month!

Cutting a long story short, I am now 36 and I’ve had light therapy 3 times now along with multiple steroid cream treatments. It does help but the side effects aren’t great. It has aged my skin a lot, especially on my face. So I have decided to just stick with moisturising, sometimes steroid use if it gets a bit bad. After my third pregnancy and the devastating loss of my mother this year it has flared up again a little bit but I am trying to accept the skin I’m in and embrace my psoriasis a bit more. It is part of me. Part of who I am. I won’t let other people’s ignorance about it cause me embarrassment and I have learned to love me a bit more. Red patches and all.

Danielle's Story

My psoriasis journey started when I was really young, I had plaque psoriasis on my scalp but that was just the beginning. Growing up I never really thought anything about it, until the other kids noticed. I don’t know how many times I went home crying because I’d been asked if I had head lice or dandruff. Kids can be so cruel. Fast forward a few years, I learned how to fix my hair to cover it, or at least make it less noticeable. I would even dye my hair every few weeks as that seemed to help a bad flare up. I was managing it and that was good enough for me.

It wasn’t until I was 17 when my problems really began. I had got a viral infection (hand, foot and mouth) and I started to notice I had patches of psoriasis on my stomach. At first I wasn’t too bothered but it seemed with a blink of an eye my whole body was covered. It was the worst year of my life. My skin was in a horrible state, it would bleed constantly and I spent most of that year covering up my body or inside crying. After months and months of going to the doctor I was finally referred to a dermatologist who immediately sent me for UVB light treatment.

It was amazing, after a few sessions of my fancy “sunbed” and my skin was practically clear. I’m so grateful I found something that worked for my psoriasis, but I do look back to that time where I was at an all-time low and just felt very let down by my doctors. Having psoriasis knocks your confidence a lot and it was the little things, no fake tan, not wearing dresses, spending hours picking “bits” out of my hair and constantly feeling sad about it all.

My skin Is fairly clear now, I do have a few patches on my arm but I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t care. Before I had my son I would never tell people I had psoriasis, that was FAR too embarrassing. Now I’m open about it and it’s definitely helped my self-esteem. Psoriasis is a part of my life, whether I like it or not and I’ve learned to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly!

David's Story

Few who read this will know I have psoriasis yet I spent 37 years in the military with it. I have been hospitalised three times for several weeks at a time when they had a Skin Ward at Raigmore Hospital near Inverness in the early 70s. Those days it was a very basic treatment covered in tar products. It was very hard and upsetting for a young guy. The RAF Doctors had very little clue how to deal with it and many treatments and ointments made the raw skin a lot worse.

The initial signs for me were a red skin rash on my head, legs, arms and trunk that got worse and worse. Soon about 40% of my body was covered. I was very active at this time with the RAF Mountain Rescue and playing football and other sports. The rash got raw after a day of heavy physical activity and actually bled with the constant rubbing of clothes. It was so painful and few knew what the rubbing after a 12 hour hill day did to your skin. It became pretty obvious and I got a few cutting comments - did I have "Scabies"? "Is it contagious?"

Eventually I was sent to Raigmore Hospital for three weeks of constant treatment with tar products, which ruined any clothes you had. The nurses were great and they had to administer some of the tar-based creams, it was a hard job but seeing many others a lot worse than me made me accepts it was life.

There were increased bouts of it and it was always worse after a winter and meant that there were few summers I could wear shorts and light clothing. I was very embarrassed about my skin and my appearance and the best way for me to cope was to cover it up, not easy in the hot weather. Sun can be a great help with the disease and wearing clothes made you sweat - it became a long battle every year.

Treatment of my condition was very hard trying to get somewhere private to apply creams, especially when away most weekends with the RAF Mountain Rescue in village halls or tents with limited showering facilities or privacy. Most of the team accepted it and I got used to educating them about my condition. 

Psoriasis can be hereditary but no one in my family had it, but I have worked out that it can be affected by stress, and one thing for me is trauma. This was especially after an upsetting Air crash or an upsetting Mountain Rescue Call Out. Also if I get an illness or I am sick then it can explode and the process begins again.

I was very lucky as all my girlfriends accepted psoriasis was part of my life but it did put a strain on relationships and even holidays by the sea were dependent on the state of my skin. I was posted to the Persian Gulf in 1974 for 9 months and the sun definitely helped and it was one of the few times I was free of psoriasis in my life. It was hard at first as I arrived with the condition fairly flared up and you cannot hide it when wearing shorts. Eventually people accepted it and the sun did work and cleared my skin.

I have had most treatments in my life, even taking part in early light treatment in Dundee which made you very susceptible to light as you were given a tablet before treatment. This made you very affected by the sun for 24 hours, not easy if I had a Mountain Rescue Call out after treatment. I have tried all types of creams but the light treatment nowadays is very effective if time-consuming. It is very hard to get a place and this treatment takes several months usually going three times a week and building up from a few seconds to minutes, all controlled by the wonderful nurses. Treatment has become better but the waiting list is long for the UV treatment.

Today I have the time to look after my skin a bit better, keep the areas moisturised and treating the areas as they occur with modern creams. Unfortunately some include steroids and must be used sparingly. I find alcohol does not help, and eating well and getting some sun after a long winter always helps.

It is not life threatening but can make life hard for many, after 40 years I can cope and if you or a relative have psoriasis maybe this will help? I have it every year but It is great when it clears and you can go about in shorts, swim again and wear light clothes, simple things but such a great feeling. I can go swimming with my Grandkids again if I want to.

The local Dermatology staff in my Elgin hospital - their care is superb but their facilities are so limited - one phototherapy machine for so many. Gone are the days of Skin wards but they are so good with the limited facilities they have, we could achieve much more with better funding. But who seems to care or understand and who do I contact to put my worries forward on the limited facilities?

My advice is do not be afraid to talk about it to friends. Most are fine about it and many have this condition. Get professional help, see a dermatologist when you can and hopefully one day there may be a solution to this awful disease.

I had been asked to help with an NHS video a few years ago about psoriasis from my friends in the Dermatology Department at Doctor Gray's hospital in Elgin. I have been unfortunate to have had this awful skin disease since I was 17. It can be a terrible and fairly unknown disease that the general public know little about. I was going to do a piece on my blog about it to try to spread the word, this video has hastened it and it may help others.

To many psoriasis is a disease that few know about or understand and can be a huge blow especially for a young person. It is a hugely embarrassing thing with your skin looking terrible and red raw at times, it affects your whole life.

Thanks to all who help us, especially the Dermatology Department at Doctor Gray's in Elgin who are superb, and I will be hoping to get to see you again when I start my treatment.

Elizabeth's Story

My first memory of psoriasis is when I was in primary school, possibly around 8 years old. I think this was my first ‘win’ in avoiding the shame that was to follow me for the rest of my life; I got out of swimming lessons - yay. The relief of not having to be so vulnerable in front of my young peers, and not having to lug that big, white tub of greasy emollient around, was great!

I couldn’t, however, avoid every situation, and there were different moments during my life that stay with me to this day. Some examples, when we had PE and my legs were on show and my classmates made comments about my skin. When I was in my teens and went into a changing room in a clothes shop and to my horror saw it was communal!! Yep, no individual cubicles to hide myself in (needless to say I ‘didn’t like that outfit anymore’). During my adult years when I was in a meeting at work and as I stood up I saw my little snow storm left on the desk and chair – how the hell do I wipe this down quickly, but subtly?? I put my notepad on the table and sat back down, pretending I was going to stay and finish something off. Thank god the carpet was light grey.

I remember multiple GP and hospital appointments, many with my mum who was anxious to find something that would help me, where I would have to show the Drs and nurses my body for them to inspect it (often accompanied by pitying looks).

In my (I think) late teens/early 20s, I embarked on the highlight of my embarrassing psoriatic journey. I started a treatment, I forget the name now, where I stood naked (apart from my knickers – I got to keep an ounce of dignity at least), overweight and covered in psoriasis, in front of three nurses, feeling extremely self-conscious while they painstakingly dotted this tar type of ointment on every one of my patches. I swear time used to stop, just so I could slowly shrivel inside at the discomfort I felt when what I always tried so, so hard to cover, couldn’t have been more apparent. When they had finished I got to stand there, star fished for about 20 mins. This went on for a number of weeks – and never got any easier - and if I remember right, it didn’t really do that much for my skin, other than flatten it out a bit, maybe take away some redness. But it wasn’t alone in its lack of success. Nothing lasted long. If I got some relief, it was always short-lived, maybe a few weeks if I was lucky.

I tried treatment after treatment, steroid creams, stinky tar, light therapy, then the bad boy of light therapy (PUVA) – this was the one where I had to wear sunglasses on the treatment days. Well, imagine you are a walking ball of self-consciousness in your early 20s, in Newcastle upon Tyne; it’s not exactly the Costa del Sol. People used to look at me as if to say ‘who do you think you are, wearing sunglasses when there is not a ray in sight’. Head down, scurry on to the hospital. At least I wasn’t naked though!

Clothes were my saviour; covering me up, but I have never liked clothes shopping. I found it one of the most depressing and demoralising necessities. In the days before internet shopping anyway.

I always had to consider what I wore – can you see my red patches through this top/these tights, I can’t wear that colour dress as thick black tights don’t go with it. I can’t wear that black top as the scales that drop from my head will be really obvious. I remember a nightclub me and my friends used to go to in our late teens. It was great, everyone went there from our all-girls’ school, and the neighbouring all-boys’ school. But there was an area encompassed by one of my lifelong nemeses – the dreaded UV lights! Not that I needed it as I was always aware of it, but my friends were always on shoulder watch, subtly dusting my shoulders or alerting me to the hundreds of flakes of skin that plagued me, throwing me into a panic to get out from under these f**king lights. They destroyed the hard work I put into hiding my psoriasis every time I left the house, in order to look normal. God I hate the scalp flakes.

My dad used to say ‘I wish I could take it from you’. ‘Really dad, do you?’ I’d hit back. ‘That’s easy to say when it’s not possible’. It used to make me so angry when he said it, although I knew he wholeheartedly meant it, and really would swap places with me in an instant. There are other phrases I used to hear a lot – and hate:

‘There’s other people who have it worse than you’. Eurgh, that doesn’t make me feel better, only guilty, and sorry that there are other people out there who feel how I feel.

‘You’re just you to us, we barely even notice it’. My dear friends and family; you see what I want you to see. And I might be ‘just me’ to you, but I’m not me, to me. I’m that walking ball of paranoia and self-loathing; I know I look like a leper, I have eyes. I look like I have been in a fire when it’s at its worst. And I’m not just being paranoid here, a number of people have said that to me, my husband was there once to back this up.

Ah my husband. He’s great about it. The biggest things that bother him about it are: a) the way it makes me feel and the things it restricts me from doing, and b) the mess I make when I sprinkle skin everywhere I go. That actually makes it sound a little nicer than it is – a sprinkling, like of glitter – ahh nice. Nope, not nice. I sit and I pick at my patches ‘til they bleed, scratching away to get some relief, leaving gross little piles of skin in our communal living spaces. This is what he doesn’t like. I have had a lifetime of picking and shedding; sometimes it doesn’t even register that I’m doing it. Sometimes I even enjoy the picking.

He's been with me through various treatments and varying levels of severity and has never once – apart from scorning me for not vacuuming up after myself – made me feel bad for having it. I wish I could say the same thing about myself; I must have done something bad to be afflicted with this little-understood condition.

As I have grown up I have learnt to deal with my psoriasis in a different way. I’ve become that little bit more comfortable in myself and I auto-adapt to situations where my skin requires consideration. However as I have got older, my concerns over my psoriasis have also changed. (I would like to point out that I am aware I must sound very self-indulgent here, but that’s what this ‘story’ is all about – me and my psoriasis, so please bear with me).

I was firstly blessed with two beautiful nieces, then my own beautiful little girl, so instead of just thinking about psoriasis and me, my anxiety scope widened to them too. I am terrified my child will get it.

I don’t know if I’d have the strength or the patience to go through what my mum did with me; the years of creams, appointments, the disappointment when a new treatment doesn’t work, or stops working, seeing your child in pain, both physically and mentally. But I wasn’t about to let psoriasis take away something I yearned for – a child. So if it happens, it happens, and we will deal with it, plus treatments are getting better all the time…

Three years ago, after three decades of my skin condition and numerous oral drug treatments, I was referred to a different Professor, a specialist in biological treatments. Well, what a revelation! There were these injections that I could take that wouldn’t impact my quality of life (can you believe one of the oral drugs requires you to cut out alcohol! Pah, I think not, I didn’t last long on that one, and not just because of its awful side effects!). Anyway, this wonderful man was sat there telling me that they would get me pretty much clear – CLEAR – in time for my wedding which at the time was about seven months away. Oh I so desperately longed for that – to on that one day, not feel disgusting and be able to wear a nice dress without sleeves. As I day-dreamed about that concept; another thought entered my head… I could go swimming!!!!!! SWIMMING! I imagined playing around in the swimming pool with my daughter and my (now) husband. I cried.

It all sounded too good to be true; I was wary, and for good reason. The first type of injection didn’t work. The second one helped, but Professor Wonderful (aka Griffiths) said we could do better. We were getting nearer and nearer to the wedding, so they rushed me on to the third and apart from my legs, I was clear for my wedding day. Yippee! This one went from strength to strength, with no side-effects; I had found my little miracle ‘cure’. I was about 98% clear. For the first time in my life, I had normal skin. It. Was. Amazing. I went swimming with my daughter, we even went on a little family holiday abroad and I had my legs out!!!!!!!! I wore dresses, shorts and NO BLACK TIGHTS OR LEGGINGS IN SIGHT. I felt so happy.

I think that level of contentment then led me into a false sense of security as I decided I wanted another baby. My husband had his reservations as among other things it meant coming off my psoriasis medication, but I was sure… I was prepared. It took us about a year and a half to get pregnant the first time so I was anxious I’d have another long wait ahead of us, but five months after my last injection was out my system; I was pregnant. In that time my psoriasis had returned, as anticipated, but much slower than expected; cool, I could totally cope with this! I was pregnant, not too scaly and everything seemed to be going my way.

Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be and I miscarried. This knocked me a bit and I felt all my hope slipping away with each day, and each new patch of psoriasis that came to both keep me company, and taunt me. It’s kind of like a friend you hadn’t invited, and didn’t want to have to entertain. It’s like this thing that you hate, but gives you comfort. You can always rely on it (coming back). This thing that is with you on your darkest days, but is also the reason for those dark days. Odd.

Well it’s coming back with a vengeance now, I guess because of all these feelings – they say a trauma can make it worse/set it off and like clockwork it erupted like a dormant volcano that certainly wasn’t dormant any longer. Now don’t get me wrong, it is what I expected, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. I feel angry, not just because I lost my baby (while it was early days – it was going to be my baby, my last pregnancy), but also because I also have to grieve my clear skin… without having anything to make it worth the renewed pain.

Now, I wish the only decision that tore me up was about what clothes I could get away with wearing, whilst still looking my age. Instead I have really adulty choices that are dictated by my psoriasis; like choosing to have another baby (which I really ache for) and let my skin and mental health get progressively worse, or do I give up on that dream and seek sanctuary back in my injections. I’m still deciding.

Either way those wonderful people at the hospital will help, and support me getting back to my happy place, of clear, smooth skin and clothes that don’t leave me red raw. To being a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. To… freedom. I know I will have it again.

  • Corrinne
  • Danielle
  • David
  • Elizabeth

Ellie C's Story

Being a teenager isn’t easy. The ever-fluctuating frustration around your own changing body and how it fits in with the world around you is enough to discourage anyone from healthy self-esteem. This frustration is elevated beyond reproach when you develop psoriasis at a young age.

My own journey with psoriasis has been testament to this. Having recently entered my twenties, for the first time in my life I am accepting of myself not just in spite of my skin condition, but because of it. In my teens however, I was plagued by insecurities not just about the way I look, but about how people would think and speak about me. I remember the first time I ever revealed my skin in public having just turned thirteen, on holiday with my dad and brother. With the blazing sun on my cardigan-clad, psoriasis ridden body, I plucked up the courage to whip off my outer layers to get some sunshine on my skin. Not two minutes had passed before a concerned looking member of hotel staff approached and asked if there was anything he could get me for “that” (pointing at my white, scaly legs). Obviously, the man was just trying to be helpful, but that self-deprecating voice in my head exploded into a cacophony of self-consciousness and anxiety. I grabbed my clothes and rushed back to my room where I stayed crying the rest of the day.

The fact is of course, that more often than not you over-sensationalise your condition. The number of people that have told me they’d never even noticed my psoriasis, despite being racked with my own self-consciousness is quite staggering. The problem is that in a society where you are constantly judged for what’s on the outside, you never really stop to take care of yourself on the inside. Ever since I stopped obsessing over every single sideways glance and ignorantly phrased comment, I’ve been able to channel the negative thinking into something more positive. I’m slowly becoming able to wear short-sleeved shirts or shorts without obsessing over my skin being on show; or able to stay in the gym for an entire session without running out because of how irritated my skin looks.

If I had one piece of advice for my younger self when my condition initially broke out, it would be to not let the fear of what people may think of you stop you from taking risks and doing what you want to do. If I could impart one goal to anyone suffering with psoriasis who still struggles with that little voice in their head telling them to run away, it would be to channel your frustration into a more positive outlet. For me, writing about my problems and how I was feeling helped me to understand and deal with it more easily. This journey is a long one, with lots of very itchy twists and turns, but however long it takes for you to finally start accepting yourself along with your #LeopardSpots, you will be a more resilient person because of it.

You can follow Ellie's psoriasis journey on Instagram at @psofar_psogood.

Ellie M's Story

Hey guys 🙋🏼‍♀️ my name is Ellie, I’m 24 years old and this is my psoriasis story.

So I was 15, and I remember it so well, walking to school when I felt an itching sensation coming from my stomach. Me and a friend took a look at it and, as we had no idea what it was, we put it down to the fact my mum may have changed the wash powder. Forgotten about, a year passed and I began noticing the itch coming back but this time, along with small dry circles all over my stomach which was obviously quite concerning. After numerous trips back and forth to the doctors, I was eventually told it was psoriasis - what the hell is psoriasis? I had never heard of this condition before so I had absolutely no idea what it entailed. I began using steroid cream which, for four years, seemingly kept the rash and itching under control. It became a natural part of my daily routine and I was worry free.

Then... I turned 23. Talk about returning with a bang! That year was one of the most difficult years of my life. I went through a lot personally and endured some intensely stressful times which resulted in my psoriasis coming back and engulfing my entire scalp. I cried myself to sleep nights on end, trying to lay on my pillow whilst my scalp felt like it was on fire. In desperation I tried every single option offered to me; creams, butters, shampoos, oils, you name it. Although this made me extremely self-conscious, I wanted to try and find a solution that was chemical free. No doctors’ visits, no steroid creams... Just a hunt to find something that worked for me.

Fast forward 7 months and I’m feeling absolutely fabulous about my psoriasis. Some days are better than others, but learning how to accept your condition is a part of the journey. By following pages like this, I’ve found positivity and strength through everybody else’s stories and tips - it’s really helped me & I hope mine helps you. 💜

Emma T's Story

In 2008 I started University, after 2 years of throwing my life away. I got on to the Photography degree, even though I wanted to study Film but, in my head, I assumed I wouldn't be able to get on to that course - I had minimal to no self-confidence after messing up college and then resorting to working jobs I hated whilst drinking my life away. As it turns out, after messing up my first year on photography, I managed to get on the Film course, so it all worked out lovely... Well, to a certain extent.

One day, during my first year of Uni, I woke up to find a strange rash on my arm. As I was living in halls I jumped to the conclusion that it may be Meningitis, even though I've had all my vaccinations. After panicking on the phone to my Mother, I booked a doctor appointment. When I woke the next day, the rash had spread all over my body... Now I was really concerned. A few weeks before I had been laid up in bed with tonsillitis, a kidney infection and conjunctivitis.

The first doctor I saw sat, flicking through Google to then respond with, "Yeah, I don't know what it is." This resulted in me feeling more panicked and as though I had some new illness which was unknown to any doctor. I decided to sign up as a temporary patient back at my family practice. The doctor looked at my skin and immediately knew what was going on. "Yep, you have psoriasis."

I was relieved that I had been given a diagnosis, but I had no idea what it was. So, this was 10 years ago, my first year of Uni, young and full of life and trying to get on with things. I was informed that it was a "skin condition" and that certain gels and creams could sort it out. It's funny looking back now, and even though I am still learning more and more about it, I have a much better knowledge of this disease.

As mentioned, I was told it was a skin disease, and although the problem is visible and affects the skin, it is so much more than that. Psoriasis is actually a common, chronic, genetic, systemic inflammatory disease, but if you look online most of the time you will see it being described as just a skin disease. Yes, to a certain extent it is, but psoriasis is more than skin deep.

It is characterised by symptoms and signs such as elevated itchy plaques of raised red skin covered with thick silvery scales, which, as time has gone by has become a lot more obvious on myself - and is also why my blog name is RED SILVER MOUNTAINS.

What I Knew Then vs What I Know Now

I started my blog a few years back after I started to gain more of an understanding about psoriasis, and since then I have learnt so much more. I originally had a load of lotions, moisturisers and topical creams thrown at me, and the steroid based ones worked a charm. However, you can only use them for a certain amount of time.

I then started UVB Light Therapy which was fantastic. My skin completely cleared up and I thought, 'Yes! I'm all good now!WRONG!!!! It came back 10 times worse and I was really struggling. I had UVB again and the results were just as good as the first time. Then, after a while my skin started to get worse again. I never knew why. I thought I was a rare case and that I was destined to be covered with psoriasis forever. There's no cure, but there is a variety of treatments. What I do know now, which I didn't know for so long was about the inflammatory side of psoriasis.

I have tried SO many treatments, and this year was close to starting Methotrexate - a DMARD (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug) which is also used as a chemotherapy agent and immune system suppressant. After having to have many blood and liver tests, and a good think about my health in general, I decided not to start it and instead give UVB light therapy another go.

The reason for this? There's a few really:

  1. I have already lived on different types of medication for most of my adult life and didn't want to add to that.
  2. I have learnt so much more about psoriasis from when I first had UVB treatment that I am now aware that it's more down to how I look after my body internally than anything else.
  3. Methotrexate is pretty hardcore and can have horrid side-effects, not to mention that you cannot conceive when taking the drug (not that I'm trying to right now).
  4. I have some inflammation on my liver and Methotrexate can/will make this MUCH worse.  

This summer I have been very active, I was carefree about having my skin on show and the sun really did it wonders. It has only been the last week or so where it has started to flare again and my joints - mainly my back - are in agony and I am struggling to get around. (I'm still waiting to have more tests to see if I have psoriatic arthritis).

Today I went to have my UVB light therapy test strips done, and all being well, next week I will start my course of treatment again. It's amazing how things seem to come full circle.

10 years ago, when I first started Uni is when I was first diagnosed with psoriasis. This week I return to Uni to study an MSc in Marketing and I start another course of treatment. Even though I am currently in agony and very stressed, I am so determined to do well on my course and look after myself inside and out.

I won't be cured, but hopefully one day I can look forward to a world where someone has managed to crack it. For now, I can keep raising awareness, look after my mind, body and soul, and go back to Uni with more confidence ready to take on the world.

And so, the Flaky Student returns.

Emma G's Story

My skin before, and 4 months after changing my diet and lifestyle.

I remember how I was feeling when I took the first photograph: scared, stressed, out of control, ugly, unlovable. I had been using prescribed steroid creams for about 2 years but my skin had got used to them and they were no longer effective.

I decided to take back control, I researched natural ways to heal and stumbled on the Dr Pagano book Healing Psoriasis. I followed his instructions to the letter 💯, I believed that I would get well and kept the faith 🙏.  

After 4 months, I woke up one day and noticed an improvement. 10 days after that I was completely clear. Not only that but I felt incredible, I had more energy than I had had in years, I was loving exercising 🏃🏻‍♀️ and sleeping like a log 😴.

I truly believe that psoriasis is a condition of the gut; heal the gut and heal the skin 💜

  • Ellie C
  • Ellie M
  • Emma
  • Emma G

Erin's Story

When I turned 12 that’s when I noticed spots red appearing on different parts of my body. I went to endless appointments for a diagnosis as time went by I was taking home 2 big bags of steroids and creams just for these tiny spots I never knew anything about. Eventually I got diagnosed with Psoriasis...

My first initial thought was I have no idea what that was because I was so young. The worst part was there was no cure! After years of going to children’s hospitals and dermatologists I kept receiving the typical steroid which I’ve been using for years, it thinned and irritated my skin so much that even clothes burned when I wore them.

As I became a teenager it began to cover every part of my body, even in hot weather I would wear jumpers and jeans. My mental health deteriorated and my confidence continued to lower itself. At 17 I finally got offered an alternative treatment at Addenbrookes hospital, they were caring towards my situation and offered me UVB light therapy. It cleared my skin straight away!! But it started coming back after a few months...now I’m 18 and I’m finally starting to accept the way I am! I realised more people were in the same situation as I was and it inspired me to want to become an advocate for Psoriasis.

I’ve become vegan and letting my skin have air and sun light. I feel there should be more awareness because it’s a daunting disease there could be more people out there hiding themselves from the world! My advice to you is to open up about your condition, tell people, tell your friends and family more people around you might have it too! If you need advice my Instagram is erinmelissa18

Ffion's Story

I've had psoriasis since I was 15 years old. It started on my scalp. For a while my parents and I just thought it was dandruff, however a few days before Christmas in 2007, I found a big patch, completely raw, seeping, itchy and painful behind my ear. I was diagnosed with psoriasis the next day and have had patches somewhere on my body ever since.

By the time I was 16/17 it was everywhere. I was having treatment in hospital 3 days a week, a combination of UVB and strong steroids. It helped a little, but it became clear that the cause of my psoriasis was stress. I’ve always been very shy and I always keep my feelings hidden, I keep everything inside.

Balancing hospital and school was difficult. Other than a couple of teachers I didn’t feel very supported by my school, other kids didn’t understand, many would throw nasty comments, although my closest friend always knew, and still does, how to make me laugh and feel better. I don’t really remember those years with much fondness, as the stress of everything was just causing my skin to flare even more - it was like being in a vicious circle. However, I do have some wonderful memories with my parents from that time too - going for lunch with my mam after treatment, and going for walks on the beach with my dad. The beach and the ocean has always been my haven.

I’ve tried a lot of different treatments over the years, like so many others who’ve written their stories, and I’ve finally found something that works for me.

My psoriasis has never been something I’ve really discussed openly, other than with family and close friends. It had a big effect on me mentally when I was younger, I’d find myself feeling very low. When I get a flare up I still feel myself getting quite low and quiet and I still get very emotional whenever I discuss my skin. I don’t know if reading this will help anyone else, I really hope it does, but making myself write it has helped me a lot.

I still have psoriasis, I know I’m never going to be completely clear, but it’s much milder now. I go through flare ups but I’ve learnt how to handle it. I’m very lucky to have an amazing family and fantastic friends who can spot a problem and signs of a flare up often before I do!

Over the last few weeks my skin has gone through a bit of a flare up, even though it’s not too bad, it still has an effect. Even though it’s not great at the moment, I know if it wasn’t for my family and friends, being able to talk to them, trust them, laugh, (and VERY often) vent to them, I’d be much worse. So if anything, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything, from the bottom of my heart.

Gemma's Story

My name is Gemma and I have had psoriasis for 31 years. I think...

I thought I knew my psoriasis story. I have been telling it for years. I developed chicken pox when I was six and the spots turned into plaques.

The only thing is, that was not entirely true.

Last month I was interviewed for my own podcast, The Psoriasis Geek Podcast, by Russ Cowper (who writes amazing poetry about living with psoriasis - see his '50 for 50' story).

During the interview Russ asked about my psoriasis treatment history and, after fudging through the answers, I asked my mum.

She told me that she suspected I had psoriasis before the chicken pox incident. It was in my hairline and on my scalp, but she preferred to live in optimistic hope that this was not the case. She herself has psoriasis so she knew what the prognosis would be.

Chicken pox flared my psoriasis, but more than I had known. The scalp psoriasis was so severe my hair fell out and my mother eloquently describes my scalp as one enormous scab, like a cap that could be lifted off with the remnants of my hair. My joints were so swollen I was unable to put on my own socks and I was hospitalised several times, not the one singular occurrence I remembered.

This highlights something that has become apparent to me in the last three years. In psoriasis care - communication is everything.

How many times have you replied to the question ‘Are you O.K?’ with the answer ‘Yes. How about you?’ when that very morning you ate chocolate for breakfast, because getting dressed in a jumper on the hottest day of the year brought you feelings of despair?

I did not ask my mum about my psoriasis as a child because I did not want to upset her. I felt that reminding her of the difficult emotional challenges she must have faced as a parent having to leave her 5 year old daughter in hospital (yes I got the age of onset wrong too) would be unfair, and yet, as a parent myself, I would be upset to find my child was holding back when they needed something.

This is why I am a fan of online forums and psoriasis advocates on social media, it is so much easier to talk to other people who know what you are going through. Psoriasis is different to other problems that affect the skin. Yes we can commiserate on the challenges of living with visible skin problems with someone who has an outbreak of blackheads. But at its core, psoriasis is so much more than a skin condition. I find it hard to tell friends that I am having a hard day, because my skin is cracking when I walk and I have nothing to wear, because in the true essence of friendship they rally around and tell me how great I look.

In the psoriasis community I know that the same comment will elicit comments of support. People saying ‘I get you’ and letting me feel those emotions instead of trying to brush them away to make me feel better. Reminding us that tomorrow is a different day, that we are together for the highs and the lows. That together we are a team. Together, we never need to be alone.

Georgia's Story

I've had psoriasis since I was 15, but it’s hard for me to remember a life without it. It’s always been by my side in some way; it was there when I when I sat my exams, when I went to prom, when I learnt to drive and when I started University! Whether it’s one little patch behind my ear that doesn’t seem to want to go or entire flare up that can cover most of my body – it never fully leaves! I used to find that really difficult and frustrating, I’d spend nights stressing over why it wouldn’t go or why creams just wouldn’t work! I would try every tip under the sun in an attempt to attain the perfect skin I was seeing plastered around mainstream media every day and it’s taken me 6 years to realise that that really isn’t necessary.

I have always had dry skin, ever since being a baby, and I knew that my biological Dad had strange patches of thick, white skin on his elbows but I never thought anything of it. When I was told I had eczema in primary school, I let that blow over and took it in my stride. As far as I was concerned I was just a regular child – I just had to moisturise! Everything changed around that time.

In my last year of primary and into my first few years of high school I became a target for bullies. I stood out because I didn’t comply with social norms. My clothes were different and I didn’t bother styling my hair when others did. When girls my age were starting to get nice school bags and learning how to use makeup I was quite content just being me. I became a target both in and out of school. In fact, I distinctly remember a voicemail I received off an anonymous number in year 9 which told me that “no boy would ever come near me” because my “nose was massive and I wore a frickin’ Gola bag”. It was around this time that things really changed.

The bullying had led to some quite severe confidence issues for me, I had become incredibly withdrawn and was upset to look in the mirror. I tried to keep up with trends and ended up having to seek therapy as I was getting changed up to 6 times each day before I could leave the house. That was when I woke up with blemishes. I’d had small patches of psoriasis on my elbows before but thought nothing of it as I hardly noticed them – but here I was, aged 15, looking into the mirror and seeing red patches appearing on my face. To the bullies’ delight, I would wear thick, dark foundation to cover them and my Mum quickly took me to the doctor – that was when I found out I had psoriasis. On my face, my chest, my scalp and in my ears. I remember the doctor asking me if I had recently been under any stress or upset. Thankfully, no-one seemed to notice at all and a little bit of steroid cream easily treated it and it disappeared after about 2 weeks – so I thought.

In my first year of sixth form it came back. Thick, aggressive plaques over my arms, back, legs and face. This time it really hit hard. There was days I refused to go in. I remember going into my Drama class and people asking what it was or if I was ill. That was the first time I told anyone that I had psoriasis. To my surprise, people were supportive – my friends would tell me that I looked pretty, like a leopard, and I found some peace in that.

When the psoriasis began to spread and the creams stopped working, the doctor sent me to a dermatologist who referred me for phototherapy. It was draining having to drive for an hour 3 days a week to stand in what just looked like a sunbed for 3 seconds (though this time gradually increased) but it worked unbelievably well. After about 6 weeks, the psoriasis was hardly noticeable at all and I was happy with my skin again.

It remained relatively clear for 4 years after that, until just after my 21st birthday when I noticed a small patch appear right in the middle of my chest that didn’t seem to want to go! I went through numerous big life changes and emotional upheaval and I knew what was coming. I am currently in the most severe flare I have ever had. I have psoriasis on my chest; arms, back, stomach, legs, scalp, neck, ears, vagina, breasts, nipples, bum – and I have no reason (or way) to pretend I don’t. This led to me making the decision that has changed my entire life!

In May, I created an Instagram account: @meadowsonmyskin – to document my journey with psoriasis. I aimed to uplift, inspire and empower other people like me who I knew would be suffering. I now reach out to others and set the best example that I can whilst showing that it’s okay to have a skin condition. It’s okay to not look like media models! I’m currently being referred for my second round of phototherapy which I hope will clear up my flare – but even if it doesn’t? Never mind. That’s my new attitude. I’m not ashamed to be me, I’m not ashamed of my skin. I have psoriasis, but psoriasis doesn’t have me.

  • Erin
  • Ffion
  • Gemma
  • Georgia

Gráinne's Story

I'm Gráinne. I have guttate psoriasis. When I first discovered I had psoriasis, I was five years old and had just recovered from chickenpox, but I still felt like they were on my scalp. With a history of psoriasis in the family, it was easy for my mum and her sister to identify that it was psoriasis. This was easily controlled by putting olive oil in my hair overnight.

I wasn't until secondary school that it flared up over my whole body - but I controlled it with the steroid cream 'Dovobet'. Since then I've had six severe flare ups. When it starts, there are a few spots, and all of a sudden it spreads wildly over my whole body - and is always triggered by emotional imbalances or stress. The only thing that can help it is light therapy and Dovobet. Since third year, I've had 4 courses of light therapy. Within the past two years I've had three flare ups like this.

I am now 19, and my most recent flare up is my worst to-date. To have two flare ups within the one year is extremely upsetting and caused my mood to plummet, but I have never let it stop me from doing anything - I've had it long enough to not only accept it, but embrace it - and self-approval is so important. It is extremely difficult to live with - it's a physical and mental struggle every day - but it's imperative especially at this age not to let it interfere with what you want to do in life.

Greg F's Story

I first remember having psoriasis when I was around 8 years old and I would have to have coal tar baths and wash my hair with Polytar. This went on for several years and seemed to keep it largely in check. It was mostly on my head and whilst I got a fair amount of ‘dandruff’ chat at school it could have been a lot worse. And then it went. I must have been in my early teens. I was delighted!

Fast forward 10 years and it came back with a vengeance. I have no idea why but I started to get patches on my hips. I sought solace in coal tar solutions once more but they had little effect. Then my nails started to form white patches and disintegrate in places. They became painful. I visited a doctor but they couldn’t tell me what it was. I was in a new relationship at the time and it was a blow to my self-confidence. I would apply the solutions at night and the smell was somewhat off putting! I went onto steroid based creams and ointments and that made a difference initially, but as everyone knows who has had to go down that road, in the long term they start to lose their ability to treat it effectively, plus they’re not good for you.

As of now I’ve not actively used a steroid for 10 years. But it’s taken a toll. The patches get bigger all the time and despite trying to make lifestyle changes around diet etc. I don’t seem to be able to get a handle on the problem. I am convinced this is the key to it all though – diet. Not the often asked about stress. Indeed, I had a bout of food poisoning a few years back. I was sick all night and into the next day. That evening I had a bath to warm myself up and noticed that the psoriasis had completely disappeared. Gone, entirely. It was a revelation. I slowly reintroduced food groups into my diet after that, went gluten free, quit alcohol & dairy, but never managed to put a finger on what it is. To my disappointment it came back progressively in the following weeks.

My nail psoriasis was eventually diagnosed by a doctor that was giving me inoculations for a foreign trip – she casually asked if I had nail psoriasis when she was injecting me. “Nail psoriasis? Is that even a thing?” “Yes” she said, it was quite obvious if you knew what you were looking at. “Fantastic” I said, “I can be cured!” “Sorry”, she said, “it’s incurable and we have no idea what causes it.” Brilliant!

Since the psoriasis returned 20 years ago or so now, a lot has happened personally and professionally – I am now happily married and have 3 wonderful boys but the psoriasis has been along for the journey and has gotten progressively worse, more painful and more of a talking point, the more obvious it has become. I now have extremely large patches across my lower legs, on my elbows, my stomach and back and occasionally on my face. It’s difficult doing the job that I do as I am often asked to wear certain clothes or appear in a state of undress, most of which isn’t really an option sadly. Everyone is quite understanding and I’m quite open about it all, I just wish I didn’t have to have the conversation in the first place. It would be great if I could wear shorts on screen without it being an issue, wear a t-shirt without having to have my arms plastered in makeup, but for now it seems unlikely that will happen. I live in hope that there will be a breakthrough that fully understands the causes so a fully effective treatment can be developed. I also hope it will become more common to see skin issues like this represented in print media and on TV.

I felt compelled to share my own story and set aside the trepidation I have in baring my own skin after seeing the bravery of people who have shared their stories already and the courage to get their skin out and not let the psoriasis dictate how they feel about themselves, what they wear or what they do. Much love to you all and keep doing what you are doing! G x  

Greg P's Story

Until recently I had psoriasis for approximately 15 years. It started with 1 spot on my arm, 15 years later it was on my arms, legs, torso, front and back, hairline, and then face! That was it, I changed my diet, cut out midweek drinking and went paleo, adapting to an alkaline diet, based on reducing stress on my internal digestive system, and did yoga and exercise to help decrease stress on my mind also – all the this can be pretty stressful! All of this really helped but it was still very stubborn to move, I know psoriasis is a long term thing.

Then I was lucky enough to get on a medical trial at Ealing Hospital, for a gel/cream/oil combo called Soratinex. I’d never heard of it, but it’s from Australia, it’s hormone free, and the results were absolutely amazing! Prior to starting this I was scaly (hate that word) and sore and itchy.

Month 1, I started to notice a marked difference – it all started to calm down a lot, less inflammation, less scales, started to smooth off. Then month 2 was even better, I started to see the normal skin that used to be big, red patches, which were now breaking up into smaller red bits and normal skin. The before and after photos were shocking to me. I now can swim, wear shorts, have a relationship, and walk around naked! (If I so wish).

Amazingly the psoriasis has more or less stayed away. I keep up my Paleo diet mostly, and so now I use the treatment occasionally. I do notice if I drink too much alcohol, or smoke, or eat bad, acidic foods, then my psoriasis can return in small patches, and be inflamed. Then I behave on food, do exercise, reduce mental and physical internal stress, and externally apply the Soratinex treatment and it goes again. I feel incredibly lucky, as I know a lot of people haven’t got this ability.

This is only my experience, and I know everyone is different, but I love the paleo, and I really, really love Soratinex, it truly has changed my life, and continues to be there when I need it, and to keep the dreaded psoriasis at bay!

Han's Story

Hey, I’m Han and I have psoriasis.

My psoriasis started around 18 years ago when I noticed little red spots on my torso. I was 15 at the time and surprisingly open about it, often telling people about it before they’d even had the chance to notice. 15 is such a tough age to navigate let alone with a newly formed skin condition that no one had heard of so I think it was a defensive mechanism so that people would understand.

Whilst I was at school it stayed in areas I was able to easily hide; mainly my torso or scalp. I found a Chinese shampoo that was great for it and kept it really manageable and I tried steroid creams too. I had amazing results from these creams but I definitely hadn’t done my research on them, using them for too long so that it felt like it became almost resistant to it.

So I decided to search for the magic cure, confident one day I’d find a solution that would make it disappear. Herbal drinks, acupuncture, more Chinese creams, no dairy, veganism, juicing. I was convinced that medicine wasn’t the answer and that it had everything to do with my lifestyle or eating habits. As you’ve guessed, nothing worked.

The past 7 years have been the happiest in my life, meeting my amazing fiancé and having my now 2 year old son, after never being truly sure I’d be happy again after the loss of my mum. But for my skin it has definitely been my worst.

I now have psoriasis over much of my body; scalp, arms, torso and legs; some days I’m a walking snow storm! But at least I’ve got something in common with Kim K now hey?! Until 3 months ago I had resigned myself to that being my lot in life. But I’ve started to notice that it’s changing me and I’m not willing to let that happen anymore.

I don’t parade around the pool on holiday; I wear very modest swimsuits and keep a t-shirt on even in the pool. I have to think every day about what to wear so that I don’t show my arms or I don’t show my legs in summer as I’m too concerned over what people will think. I see people looking at my skin. Little glances at the supermarket or playground. I have heard people say my skin is “minging" and I’ve had people ask if I’ve been ravaged by mosquitos.

But enough is enough. I’m fed up of not wearing what I want, for it holding me back. Little by little I’m starting to accept that it’s me and people can look. Being so open and writing this is super scary but it's step one. Shorter summer dresses is step two. And closely behind: swimming. Eek. I’m also starting on my medical journey again, with a hospital appointment in the next few weeks!

2019 is about embracing this flaky, itchy skin that I’m in.

  • Gráinne
  • Greg F
  • Greg P
  • Han

Jade's Story

My first encounter with psoriasis was when I was around 15 and developed red, sore patches of skin all over my back. When I visited a doctor about this they said they did not know what it was, but probably down to stress as I was doing my GCSEs at the time. I was given a cream for it, and sent away - no further tests, no second opinion and no diagnosis.

I thought nothing more of it as my skin soon settled and I never had any issues - until about 2 years after. The once red, sore skin had returned; only this time flaky, itchy and uncomfortable at around the time of my A-levels and moving into uni. It covered my back and spread to my elbows; and day by day the patches were growing. The slightest bump on my skin would leave it cracking and bleeding - even bending my elbows was incredibly uncomfortable. I consulted the doctors again, only to be seen by a nurse who had no idea about skin and got multiple second opinions - to which they suggested it 'might' be plaque psoriasis. With no idea or information about this, I quickly researched what this was, feeling lost and alone with no clinical support. However, with the prescription of a different topical treatment, my skin settled - but this time, it did not completely disappear.

Months I went on with this medication, however that became ineffective within 6 months and my skin had another flare. It was then decided I should be put on Enstilar; the strongest steroid spray/topical treatment I could be put on. Again, my skin responded extremely well at first, fading until almost completely disappearing. This time I lasted about 18 months before my next flare, where it felt like my skin was fighting back against the steroid spray. It was as if because I was stopping it from coming up in one place it would spread somewhere else. I was worried, my suspected psoriasis was spreading more than I could keep up with.

Again, back to the doctors. I wanted to be seen by a dermatologist and referred for further treatment. I had read about alternate treatments when the topical medications were not working and I needed to try and help my skin. Not only was it affecting me physically at this point, but also mentally. The doctors informed me it would be a 6 month + wait to see a dermatologist and even then I might not be guaranteed an appointment, so I decided to go private. The dermatologist provided me with medications to improve the scales and itching of the skin immediately and I had a referral to the NHS for light therapy within the week - again, I was informed there was a waiting list of 6 months but I simply couldn’t afford to go private for £30 a session, twice a week, for 30+ sessions.

To my surprise, about a month went by and I had my first light therapy appointment come through in the post! I knew it might not work, that there is no cure, but there was hope! And I had to try!

I am now 24 years old, currently receiving light therapy for my skin, the plaques have faded massively, and no longer become cracked, sore or bleed. I am on over 10 medications for my skin, but even if all I have is management and control over my skin without pain, I can live with that. I have accepted this is how I am and what I have to live with. But I understand how alone and damaging it can be to mental and physical health which is why I want to support others in their journeys too.

Janine's Story

My name is Janine Price, I am 42 and happily married, with a son aged 20 and a daughter of 12, and we live in Wales.

I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 22 during my 1st pregnancy. When I first went to see my doctor I was told it was chicken pox. Two weeks later I returned and my usual doctor had returned and I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Treatment during pregnancy was difficult and it got much worse. My problems were scalp psoriasis, and plaque psoriasis on my knees, hands,  elbows and a few other places, along with nail psoriasis.

I have always worked since leaving school and most people I have worked with have been understanding of my condition but others made comments and remarks which have been upsetting. One day I put fuel in my car and went to pay and the cashier said ‘what’s wrong with you, is it contagious?’ and then pulled her hands away and I had to slide the money for payment while she reluctantly touched it.

I always enjoyed swimming, and was keen for my children to develop this life skill at a young age but eventually I gave up taking them swimming locally and enrolled them in swimming lessons as I couldn’t face people staring or asking if I was contagious, and sat and watched while my husband took them swimming. Swimming for me was something that only happened on holidays, and then I would get stares.

During my 3rd pregnancy (sadly I had a miscarriage on my 2nd pregnancy), my psoriasis cleared. Unfortunately after a few months it reappeared and gradually got worse. Again, I tried all the lotions and potions. When nothing else worked I was prescribed methotrexate in 2015 but this didn’t work and I suffered side effects including hair loss, headaches and other problems.

Being quite run down, I decided I needed to escape to the sunshine – this had always helped in the past, even if it was short term. We booked a last minute escape to Gran Canaria from the UK. Our daughter became friends with another girl from the UK, and I got chatting to her Mum. She asked me had I ever tried looking at nutrition and exercise?  During 18 long years this had never been suggested to me (We are now best friends).

I changed my diet (which included using some supplements to aid deficiencies I have) and also found what seemed to trigger flare ups (by keeping a food diary) and experienced an improvement in my skin, and also benefitted from losing weight. I was able to start exercising and soon my skin and weight significantly improved.

I began a couch to 5k program with a friend and after 8 months ran my 1st ever half marathon in 2016 and raised money for psoriasis. I also did the Cardiff Half Marathon again in 2017 proudly wearing my psoriasis vest.

My skin is still clear 3 years on and with the same friend (Kathryn) I have developed an award winning fitness group for women and girls and now help lots of people to be physically active. We have a couch to 5k group, 5k +, light exercise class with chair based movements to music, a boot camp session, and children's gymnastics. All because I feel better and because exercise has been very significant for me. 

I actively raise awareness of psoriasis and the other issues that can be caused by it and will continue to support Psoriasis UK . 

Jas' Story

I was 18 years old when I first discovered a small patch of dry skin behind my ear, it didn't really phase me as I thought it was just some dry skin. Little did I know this tiny spot the size of a pea will change my life forever.

4 years later and it was covering 80% of my body which resulted in me becoming bed bound for close to a whole year. This was the hardest time for me as I had previously never had any health conditions, and in just the blink of an eye I went from being sociable and always outdoors to being in bed not wanting to be seen by a single person, which resulted in severe depression.

Now I am 28 years old and I have finally regained my confidence with the help from some amazing psoriasis communities, friends and family. I can now finally accept the skin I am in, I’m proud of who I am and know that psoriasis is a part of me.

At this present moment in time my psoriasis is terrible and it has literally put a stop to my life, but I am not the only person in this situation who is also suffering in silence. So I made a YouTube channel and created a video called "trapped in my skin" to give a voice to those who lost theirs.

Jess F's Story

I was first diagnosed with psoriasis at four. Thinking about it now, it’s hard to differentiate between what I actually remember about that time and what I have since been told.

I was diagnosed as a chronic sufferer and my mum remembers that the nurses at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where I was later referred, told her that I was the youngest patient they had dealt with at the time and one of the youngest sufferers of psoriasis, not just in the county, but the country.

My earliest memory of psoriasis was the conversation my mum had with the GP after the first treatment we tried was having little effect and my mum tells me that the cracking on my feet was so bad and painful, I couldn’t walk.

I do remember being given an illustrative book about Kimberly and her body bandages, which described exactly the treatment I was undergoing. They used coal tar, which at the time I was diagnosed was the most common treatment for psoriasis, especially in very young patients. It’s a thick, heavy and oily substance that’s smeared over patches often before bed and I then wore body bandages overnight – man it was hot!

I’d often wake in the middle of the night demanding a bath in Balneum Bath Oil, still an essential tool in my psoriasis management arsenal (the oil, not the midnight baths), in order to wash off the coal tar. Five-year-old me thought this was a great laugh – late night dips in the tub, less so my parents.

This process was repeated for several weeks, but was quite distressing for my younger self, as the ointment would burn harshly – so back to the dermatologists we went. Turns out I’m allergic or have a severe intolerance to Coal Tar – the number one treatment for psoriasis, some irony there, and have been ever since. It does in fact just irritate my patches rather than soothes and you’d be amazed how often it crops up in cosmetics – particularly soap and hand cream.

Anyway, this started my long journey with topical steroids. I had a two-week spell of day visits to the dermatology ward at the JR, where my mum learnt all about how to treat my condition. Farewell to body bandages and hello emollients and topical steroids. This meant missing two weeks of school and my Mum brought endless craft kits to keep me amused during the spells between sessions with the consultants and nurses.

I also don’t really know what triggered my psoriasis, we think it followed a particularly bad cold and the condition does run in the family as my grandma had it. In fact, it was my gran’s experience that has probably shaped my own relationship with psoriasis. In her day, there wasn’t much to be done and she suffered terribly both physically and mentally.

The impression this had on my mum meant that we weren’t going to be slaves to this condition and my mum’s religious and diligent application of treatments has a lot to do with the good condition of my skin today. Soon, applying Diprobase from head to toe twice a day became as natural as cleaning your teeth – I think nothing of it now.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve used everything - emollients, oils, creams, steroids and shampoos. Plus, a whole raft of alternative therapies - daily chants, ayurvedic doctors - all suggested to help soothe my skin condition.

My psoriasis is definitely linked to my psyche, if stress levels rise so does the frequency of patches – taking A Levels, final years at university, stressful meetings - always lead to much larger surface areas of coverage especially down my legs and classic areas like my scalp, elbows and knees.

The scalp psoriasis was/is always the worst – it doesn’t matter what you do, it flakes and it looks like dandruff. I’ve had ‘better get some head and shoulders’ jibes since time began – but hey, I still wear black shirts and jumpers.

Most recently, my psoriasis has morphed from the larger forms to smaller tear drop shapes which are scattered over from head to toe and I’m getting it more on my face – especially on my eyebrows. I joke that I’m beginning to look like a Star Trek Klingon as it tends to get worse before it gets better. These days not many people realise I have psoriasis, apart from the face redness, I don’t have it in visible areas so much.

What people don’t see is the time spent every day applying my lotions and potions, it’s probably because of this that I can’t be bothered to put a full face of makeup on everyday – sleep’s more important to me! In many respects I was lucky to be diagnosed as a youngster – looking after my skin simply comes naturally to me and I’ve never really known anything else.

What I’d like to say to someone reading this, perhaps they’ve just be diagnosed, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it’s a pain and it can be life-changing, but often the overall changes you will make are for the better - whether that’s changing what you eat, exercise or the treatments (just think of all those non-psoriasis parts benefiting from that intense moisturisation!)

Jess blogs at The Weekend Tourist

  • Jade
  • Janine
  • Jas
  • Jess F

Jess G's Story

I have had psoriasis for as long as I can remember. I have had plaque, guttate, pustular and inverse psoriasis as well as psoriatic arthritis. At first, it was only on my thumbs. My parents worried this was because I sucked them and bandaged my hands at night. Unsurprisingly, that trick didn’t work and it spread over my hands and to other parts of my body. Learning to write was tough with bleeding hands and joints I couldn’t straighten. I often found it painful to walk and, after school, my mum used to peel my bloody socks off.

I went through all the treatments I was offered: steroids; coal tar; daily hospital trips for UVB and PUVA and even inpatient admissions for Dithranol applications. Nothing worked. My psoriasis got worse and by the age of 12 it covered 30-40% of my body including my face, scalp, back, chest, legs, hands and feet. That’s when the doctors decided to bring out the big guns and started my first course of immunosuppressants. I took Ciclosporin and spent weeks having treatment at La Roche Posay in France and was finally psoriasis free for the first time in my life! It was amazing and definitely made those awkward teenage years more bearable.

Unfortunately, 3 years later it started creeping up again. As before, it was stubbornly treatment resistant and the areas affected were very severe: fissures, red raw skin and a trail of flakes wherever I went. I tried all the treatment options again but this time even years on a cocktail of Ciclosporin and Methotrexate didn’t work. The next few years I tried it all again and even went to the Dead Sea but nothing really worked and I lived with it the best I could.

In 2014, I went away to Asia for a few months and after weeks of relaxation and sunshine my skin cleared up almost completely. That was the first time I really believed that emotional and nutritional factors had a big impact on my skin. The following years, my skin gradually got worse again with the stress of a Masters degree. I work as a Speech and Language Therapist on hospital wards and my hands were so bad that I wasn’t allowed to work with patients. I stopped exercising after watching my hands and feet bleed and peel on my mat in a yoga class. Those were pretty low points for me and I did a course of CBT to help me deal with my feelings about my skin, which was quite useful.

My boyfriend suggested I look for support on Instagram and that’s when I discovered Hanna Sillitoe and her Radiant book. I changed my diet, tried gentle exercise and weaned myself off steroids. After a few tough weeks of steroid withdrawal, my skin started to improve a little. I also started seeing a psychotherapist, which was a game changer for me and allowed me to explore my emotional triggers and stressors. I also make all my own creams, oils and scrubs now and have even started a diploma in organic skincare formulation to develop my new skills!

My scalp and hands are completely clear now. I still have a little bit on my legs and feet but I’m so happy with the results. I don’t follow a strict diet at the moment but now know how to control my skin if I need to, which is an amazing feeling.

Jodie's Story

My diagnosis with psoriasis came when I was just two years old, so I have had it pretty much all my life. It started mainly as just small, red patches across my face and in my scalp, but with certain flare ups it would appear all over. Over the past 16 years my psoriasis has been kept calm by using endless amounts of creams, shampoos and scalp solutions, as well as light therapy when I was in secondary school.

In January 2018 I got tonsillitis for the first time and this was the trigger. Within 3 weeks I was covered, head to toe. There was barely any skin that wasn't covered in bright red patches. I was referred straight away to my local dermatologist, but due to the long wait my parents decided to take me private to get me some kind of solution. The private doctor was very helpful and pushed for me to be referred to a specialist dermatologist due to the severity of my skin. After a few appointments I was put on ciclosporin and am now being monitored every 3 months. This severe flare up happened when I was in year 13 studying for my A Levels. I was in constant discomfort and pain, as well as feeling like I was forever being looked at and commented on. Walking through the dining room at lunch or break all of a sudden became a nightmare.

Working as a receptionist at a trampoline park on the weekends it felt like I was forever trying to dodge people's looks and comments. There were always adults looking me up and down as if I was one big contagious mess! For 3 months I was completely covered and looking back I don't know how I got through each day, my confidence was rock bottom. It wasn't until I was invited on a birthday night out that I knew I wasn't going to let my psoriasis stop me from going.

Since that night I have gained a lot of my confidence and strength back, and I realised that me being embarrassed and upset about it wasn't going to change the fact that I have psoriasis. It's not going to suddenly stop affecting me, I've got it for life. Now moving on it's just about learning to deal and embrace life living with it. 

Joe's Story

I'm 30 years old, I first got psoriasis when I was 7. I think for me ‘being uncomfortable in your own skin’ moved from being a day to day struggle of itching, burning and unrelenting unease, to a deep embedded feeling that extended to the whole of me. I wasn't good enough and I didn't fit in. Who would love me when I looked like this? I despaired at looking at myself, and loving the whole of myself was a long way away. Shame about my psoriasis took over, I learned what I could and couldn't wear, I had to hide it from the world.

This was a shame that was so much a part of me that I would forget it was there. Then came a turning point in my life and in my journey to accepting myself. At university I was asked - “what's that on your elbows? It looks painful.” In my usual subdued response I would reply shamefully; “it's a skin condition called psoriasis”, conversation would diverge away and all the shame that I'd been hiding was right back on the surface with me.

A very special friend was sat with me during that conversation and later she confronted the issue of what she had seen: "Joe, why are you so ashamed of your psoriasis?" She believed a more appropriate response would be telling it straight just as any other fact that might be discussed, but there was so much emotion attached for me. This was the first time in my life that someone had tried to show me another way to be about my skin condition, but I didn't get it - why would I not be ashamed? Surely anyone would, and that's the response that everyone would expect!? Apparently not.

My bond with this friend became stronger and stronger and soon she became my girlfriend. On another momentous occasion of my life, she kissed me on a patch of my psoriasis and smiled up at me. Even ten years later I am overwhelmed with the love that she showed me in this simple gesture when I recall this moment. We have now been married for six years and had our first child a few months ago. We will bring up our son to love himself for whatever/whoever he is, and we will be mindful of any shame that may be developing.

I don't want to leave my story there because there is a lot that I've missed out and I don't want you to get an unbalanced view of my life. I struggle most days to be happy or content, I've been seeing a psychologist for nearly 3 years about mental health struggles that I have and I still don't quite feel good enough. I don't know where all my issues come from and wouldn't want to unduly apportion it all to psoriasis; but it sure as hell didn't help.

I want the message from my story for anyone struggling with psoriasis to be this: there are people out there who will accept you. Better yet: there are people out there who will love you for who you are. For all of you, psoriasis and all. Please start to accept yourself. Here's one person to get you started - I accept you completely for your psoriasis, whether it is a few patches on your elbows or your whole body is covered. I accept you, I know that you are a strong person and I don't even know you. You may be good and kind, you may be mean and resentful, you may be really quite average. Whatever you are - be it and own it. Don't be something because of a skin condition. Work towards seeing your psoriasis as just something that you happen to have, not something that has to define who you are and how you act.

Believe me when I say, having the courage to stand up in front of the world and say - “here I am, this is me” - is hard, but if you have carried shame around with you for years, there is nothing more liberating.

Let me leave with just one thought - if people judge you (and some will), they are the ignorant and uninformed ones, and they are in the wrong, not you.

Jonny's Story

I'm getting ready for a night out at Uni and notice an enlarged patch of red on my scalp. Enough is enough, I’ve got to see a doctor. It’s 1999, and although Prince is partyin’ like it is that year, I’m not really feeling it. What I am soon to discover is that psoriasis will impact my day to day life and my confidence. Looking back now, it was a physical manifestation of the pain, stress and my own inability to talk through my problems that I was experiencing back then… but now they cannot be ignored.

What had led to this (I ask myself while scratching my head)? I had just returned from an operational tour of Northern Ireland with the Army, was now at University 100s of miles away from home and dealing with the recent separation of my parents. Other than that, I was ok! But seriously, finding my feet as a man in the 90s, we simply didn’t talk away our problems like we do now (I’d never had written this back then!). At Uni, it was easy to drink problems away, or simply immerse ourselves in distractions, not always study.

Psoriasis can’t be ignored, so in 1999 I popped along to my GP and was diagnosed. And for 20 years, there has always been a patch of it somewhere, and I haven’t been able to brave the hairdressers since (I’ve figured out how to cut my own hair!). But things were about to get worse, with graduation fast approaching, my attempts to get back into the Army were thwarted by a medical board, where I was ‘barred’ from service thanks to my scaly, itchy, red friend. I was heartbroken, my dreams had been shattered, and I simply didn’t know what to do with my life.

So, I cracked on with living life, travelling the world, expanding my horizons and eventually finding a meaningful career in the totally stress-free environment of politics! I even re-enlisted into the Army Reserves (rules on psoriasis had been relaxed) and eventually found myself back on operational duty, at the age of 32, in Afghanistan. All ok, until I returned home, and I found a new challenge: psoriatic arthritis.

Again, my inability to deal with stress had forced the body to react. I went from being the fittest I’d ever been to a crumbling wreck, unable to dress myself, limping often, putting on weight, unable to play rugby, fatigued, forever explaining to people my state. But I wasn’t about to sit down and take it, the example of wounded brothers & sisters overcoming their injuries taught me I could do better. So, I got in the swimming pool, then the gym, cycling, running, then the rugby pitch… I cried with joy that day I put my boots back on.

How am I coping? I have my ups and downs. Talking my stress away, dealing with things head on, all help. But the pain in my feet doesn’t go away, so I’m now on my 3rd medical treatment. I’ve even had a period of 3 months without any meds! Being active and talking, they will always be my best meds. And as for that patch on my scalp, it’s still there.

  • Jess G
  • Jodie
  • Joe
  • Jonny

Jude's Story

Hello, I’m Jude, I am 26 and I have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

I first noticed psoriasis patches growing on my forehead when I was 20 years old, starting third year of university and my dissertation. At the time I didn’t know what psoriasis was or that that was what I had. It took a few doctors’ appointments and around six months to get it properly diagnosed and over a year to get proper treatment after the diagnosis.

Having had skin conditions before, such as impetigo, acne, and shingles, I wasn’t too bothered about the psoriasis. It wasn’t until a member of the public made a rude comment about my skin whilst I was working that I became really insecure about my psoriasis. I let it bother me for months and became really depressed and insecure about my skin. Eventually, I came to realise that I could let the comment bother me forever or I could try and move on with my life. I decided to go with the latter. It wasn’t easy and it’s taken me a few years to be comfortable in my skin, but it was definitely the right decision.

Psoriasis has been a positive in my life. It’s opened doors to many opportunities, and I have made many friends through the online community. Many of my good friends were made through the community and I would not have made those connections if it hadn’t been for the condition.

In late 2018, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I was devastated for a period of time to realise that I had another condition that I would have to learn to live with. However, with a supportive community and lots of friends giving me advice, that devastation was short lived. Many people reminded me, and I have to remind myself constantly, that I am living with and not defined by psoriasis.

At @judeavrilduncan, I like to encourage people to love themselves no matter what. Psoriasis is not your defining feature. It does not say who you are as a person, you’re so much more than your psoriasis. If anyone says otherwise that’s on them for making such a shallow judgement.

Psoriasis is still my biggest insecurity and if like me you ever find yourself saying negative things about you or your psoriasis, here is a little tip. Whenever I used to say something negative about my psoriasis or myself, I would then say something positive. Eventually, you find yourself only saying positive things. Here is to self-love and acceptance in 2019 <3.

Kate's Story

I was around 10 when my psoriasis first came up. My mum took me to the doctor as she thought it could have been ring worm because it came up in a large red circle only on the side of my calf. Since then I have had plaque psoriasis on my arms, legs, shoulders, back, face, ears and scalp. Due to this, I was bullied badly in Middle School for looking different and it has made me very self-conscious of how I look and how other people see me.

I am only now, after 7 years, starting to finally learn to love myself for who I am and embrace the fact that I am different. It has taken me a long time to realise this, despite the constant support of my family and close friends. I do still have moments of insecurity but they go as quickly as they arrive now because of their support.

My psoriasis has had its own ups and downs. In the beginning it started off as plaque psoriasis and then in Upper School guttate psoriasis flared up because of tonsillitis. This covered my back, chest and neck. This again caused bullying until the flare up went.

Recently, I have had another flare up of guttate psoriasis, only this time it hasn’t gone down as quickly so I currently have the two types on my skin, but luckily only in the areas I already have plaques. This has been hard to deal with mainly to do with showing my legs in public as they are the worst affected area in terms of the coverage of psoriasis.

I have always been conscious of my legs because they have always looked worse but this is the worst they have been. I managed to pluck up the courage to wear shorts in public on a shopping trip to Portsmouth but it ended up making me feel very low afterwards because of how many people just stared at my legs and how obvious this made it. Even if I stared back at them they would just look at me and then continue to stare at me like I was an alien.

I had been building my confidence up for a while by posting pictures of my arms and then eventually my legs on my Instagram account to prove to myself that it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and all of that confidence took a massive blow after that trip. However, I got a t-shirt made up with my own slogan on it that gave me a boost as it made me feel like I had a shield against the stares and also the amazing support of my family, friends and boyfriend gave me the confidence to wear a skirt to school with no tights which I have never done since my psoriasis appeared.

I am also hopefully going to finally get on top of my skin by going on medication from the hospital that helps to stop my body attacking itself as much. This comes as a relief after years of trying so many different products. I recently worked out I have used over 30 products to try and treat my skin.

My advice to people who are struggling with anything to do with self-confidence over anything is to embrace who you are, everyone is different and unique and there is no such thing as “normal”. Be who you are and don’t listen to people who don’t accept you for who you are.

Keith's Story

Being born in 1959 means my psoriasis pre-dates the Association by about 10 years and my earliest memories of the condition by about 5.

Having psoriasis in the early 60s was interesting, there was a lot more tolerance and a lot less knowledge of the condition. My memories of those days are that everybody had the same rights and entitlements whoever you were (whether they were applied is a different conversation) but in this millennium we are into identity politics where the only thing that matters is your partial markers (black person, white person, vegan, LGBTQ) and the fact that those thing don't matter because we are all the same has been lost along the way.

In those days (I am now old enough to say that), nobody noticed a skin condition. It was about 20 years after the end of the war, 10 years after rationing ended, and the NHS was just getting started. Health care had all sorts of poverty, war injury and thalidomide related problems to deal with so "a few red blotches" was nothing to worry about (Call the Midwife is a good cultural reference point for Hartlepool at that time).

So while I was subject to the usual playground intrigue, (and I was just as bad with others), there was no malice and we all rubbed along. Apart from Fiona Whitmore, whose genes combined to produce a face so completely perfect she made Lana Turner look ordinary and it almost hurt to look at her. Some girls made her life a misery. It seems nobody escapes the killing fields of the playground.

I have clear memories of going to the doctor’s and him looking over his pince nez glasses, poking my skin and saying "ah scales that turn silvery," getting a big brown book off the shelf, diagnosing psoriasis from the contents and telling me there was no cure. But I could try coal tar soap. Which stank of both coal and tar so, at the risk of creating "double dip" intrigue like the day Nitty Nora (the health visitor) came to the school and publicly took unfortunate kids to the clinic, I declined.

At secondary school a teacher poked my skin (I was getting used to being poked by age 11) and told me that I was infectious and couldn't do sport. I made the case that I would be equally infectious during drama, English and maths so my sentence was reduced to swimming. I remained ‘infectious’ for 5 years but nobody noticed that there was no contagion and I didn't die. To this day I can hardly swim.

As a mechanic, having psoriasis can be problematic. I cut easily which means I have to be fastidious when washing my hands to prevent infection and I can lose deft movement in my hands occasionally which is frustrating, especially with touch screens or pegging out washing. Worst of all, the pain of hitting or catching a psoriatic nail is intense on a Zen level and is even worse than standing on a Lego brick with bare feet.

A lot of employers offer sick pay but that wasn't always the case so, when my condition was severe and I had to take time off for hospital treatment, I often lost two or three weeks money to compliment (and compound) my discomfort.

However, three weeks of UV treatment in the 1970s meant having a tan when foreign holidays were priced beyond most people and made me appear more exotic than I was. Result.

These days there are a lot of excellent professionals who can prescribe treatments for psoriasis but we live in a world where image, not the person, is important. A rabid need to be selfie ready ensures that every blemish is taken out of context and exacerbates the psychological issues I seem to have missed.

My advice is don't waste your energy on what people think about you - they will think it anyway. If you get a horrible comment it will be from the same person who probably made a similar comment to someone in a hijab minutes before and it says a lot more about them than you.

People call themselves psoriasis warriors, I'm not that brave. I look at my condition as a contest between medical professionals and psoriasis, I am just the field it is played on.

Anecdotally people with psoriasis don't live too well, especially by smoking, but I try to make life easier for the team on my side - I eat well, exercise a lot, do a job I enjoy and volunteer for projects when I can, and it really seems to help both the physical and psychological aspects of a life with psoriasis.

It is my aim to be the oldest surviving person with psoriasis and I hope to set a new PB tomorrow. (boom - tish).

Laura's Story

Hey, my name is Laura and I’m a twenty-six-year-old Hairdresser and Mum from Teesside. I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was twenty, as far as I can remember it all started after giving birth to Millie, who is now six. 

I have been dealing with psoriasis throughout Millie growing up. It started off in tiny, small plaques around my body which weren’t very noticeable and didn’t really bother me. I was still confident doing everyday things with Millie and, in the earliest stages, it wasn't really affecting my quality of life. 

A year went by and Millie was now one year old, I remember my psoriasis becoming more noticeable and I was becoming more self-conscious about my skin as the psoriasis began to develop on my face. I was becoming stressed about my skin and it was bringing me down. It seemed the more I stressed about having it, the psychological stress caused it to flare up even more. I also find that the winter months with the heating and the cold doesn't help, although I found myself constantly moisturising, it didn’t really make a difference.

Throughout the years the plaques began to spread, I noticed I would have a flare up at certain times of the month, but my psoriasis was becoming uncontrollable, it was beginning to affect my quality of life. I was referred to a dermatologist who then told me that it wasn’t a severe case and that he’d seen a lot worse. I went away being prescribed with more steroid creams, I felt disheartened by this because in my eyes my case of psoriasis was severe, and it was affecting me. As a job I am a Hairdresser and having to push yourself to stand in front of clients everyday not feeling confident about myself wasn’t great. Also, having to wear black clothes for work, I constantly had the white flakes on my shoulders from my scalp that I would notice having to brush them off all the time.

I went back to the doctors to be given more creams and shampoos for my scalp that didn’t seem to work. Having Millie to look after didn’t allow me the time to put these creams on at certain times of the day. I also followed diets and recipe books specifically for psoriasis, but being naturally thin I had to be careful with what I eat and that I don’t lose too much weight.

During this period, I was also well into the gym, but I would feel self-conscious about going to the gym without makeup as I liked to thicken my makeup on to cover up my psoriasis plaques. I refused to take my daughter swimming or even swim myself after the gym because I didn’t want anyone to see my psoriasis patches all over my body and I began to feel paranoid about people looking at me not knowing what it was.

Being a girl, I started trying new forms of contraception as I was starting to think added hormones were adding to the vast development of my psoriasis, as it began to get worse. I was noticing new plaques all of the time and it was becoming very painful, my skin would chafe against my clothes, and I could no longer wear deodorant under my arms because it would sting like crazy, making me feel more self-conscious about sweating. I spent a fortune on skin care trying to find something that would help control the redness, even googling about diet changes and how salicylic acid works as a peeling agent and acts as a 'scale lifter' softening the skin, helping to remove the scaly patches.

It finally got to the point where I was starting to feel down and anxious about my skin. I stopped seeing friends and going on nights outs because I didn’t want to wear a dress or a skirt or a short-sleeved shirt, anything that would show off my psoriasis. I was then referred to a dermatologist again, this time taking pictures of my skin on my phone to prove how bad my skin could get when I had a bad flare up. I also showed the dermatologist a picture of my skin without makeup, just so they would believe how bad it could get. Finally, they agreed to letting me have UVB treatment, and also I was prescribed ‘Enstilar Foam’ which I’ve never used before, I’ve found it’s been great for me and my skin has finally started to clear up after six years! The foam is easy to apply with it being in a spray bottle, and my confidence is coming back! It also cuts time on a morning because I can now feel confident enough to leave the house without makeup! I am so pleased that I can now feel comfortable in my own skin, I feel more relaxed about life and I feel like it’s a massive weight taken off my shoulders.

I really do hope this continues, and my psoriasis doesn't flare up as bad after the course of treatment has finished! 

  • Jude
  • Kate
  • Keith
  • Laura

Leah's Story

Hi, my name is Leah and this is my psoriasis story.

I first started to get psoriasis on my face and in my eyebrows when I was just 10, it then spread to everywhere on my body. I was given creams and referred to dermatology where I started on UVB treatment 3 times a week. The UVB treatment helped clear my skin for a while but it didn’t clear up my scalp psoriasis. I would go and see a nurse who would put cream on my head and I would go back early the next morning where she would brush through my hair with a comb to pull the remaining patches out. As much as it made my scalp sore it did work! The patches I had left on my body cleared up when I used Eumovate ointment.

My skin got worse when I was pregnant with my daughter. The patches got bigger and spread faster. It was hard to find a part of my body that didn't have a patch on. After she was born I started on methotrexate, but it didn't agree with me at all so we tried ciclosporin and that was the same. I then started a biologic (Stelara), which I had every 3 months. This completely changed my life, I didn't have one patch of psoriasis on me! My mental health changed too as I just felt so much better about myself. I didn't have to worry about wearing certain clothes to cover up or having my hair a certain way to hide the patches on my hairline and in my ears. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

Before I used to be embarrassed to say I had psoriasis as many people didn't know what it was, or my favourite from when I was younger was 'can I catch it?' I am much more open about it now and have also helped a few girls find different treatments. There is a treatment out there for everybody, it's just finding the one that works for you. ❤

Lee J's Story

My name is Lee and I was diagnosed with psoriasis in 1997, and later, in 2012, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Now, at age forty, I am just about at peace with it but it took me a long time to get there.

My initial psoriatic arthritis diagnosis was quite a shock. At the time I was experiencing pain in the toes of my left foot and assumed it to be an old kick boxing injury that was flaring up. About 4 years prior to this I had broken my foot in a kick boxing match. It was natural to assume that the injury was just playing up again. However, after six or seven weeks it hadn’t settled down, so I went to see my GP.

The diagnosis was immediate, but the conversation didn’t make sense to me at the time. “You have arthritis” said the doctor, “In your feet” she continued.

I went to the hospital, had some x-rays and spoke to a specialist. The specialist offered me Methotrexate but also described a whole host of terrible sounding side effects. He also said I’d need blood tests every month as well as some other checks to make sure my body was dealing with the medication without issue. He did use the word “Chemotherapy” during the conversation as well.

At the time I was pretty shell–shocked to be honest. I was thinking “Yesterday I was a normal bloke, working hard and getting on with my life. Today I’m being offered chemotherapy and being told that my condition is irreversible.”

I said “No” to the methotrexate. My attitude was that since I had been able to walk to the bus station, take a bus to the hospital, walk from the bus stop to the hospital, and then walk through the maze of hospital corridors; then surely it can’t be so bad as to warrant such medication? The seriousness of a psoriatic arthritis diagnosis was lost on me.

Now, in 2018, I am struggling to walk at all sometimes. I have had months at a time where I have been unable to pick up small objects, or make a fist, or fasten buttons. I have been hit with the most unwelcome bouts of fatigue and tiredness as a result of the illness.

I have never been a quitter. I have never been someone who gives in easily. I still fight psoriatic arthritis every day, without anything stronger than a Nurofen at the moment, but its effects are undeniable.

I used to be a dancer, kick boxer, singer and guitarist in a band. I have done many interesting things. But now I can’t really walk properly, I can’t play guitar and I get so tired sometimes that I have to take a nap during the day to try and recover some energy. The joint pain moves around the body and affects my hands and knees now as well as my feet. Sometimes it vanishes completely.

After a while I realised that the illness had taken quite a lot of who I am away. It had robbed me of a lot of myself and I hadn’t realised it. I became aware that the disease was beginning to isolate me, so, I began to challenge the illness. I began to talk about it more and acknowledge it more. I began to understand how psoriatic arthritis was affecting me and how to work with it rather than letting it defeat me.

I began to make YouTube videos about my experiences (see The Foot Of Our Stairs), and the number of responses was unbelievable. There are so many people with this disease, and there I was assuming I was somehow alone in all this. It has been such a positive thing to share my experiences and talk to other PsA Warriors about theirs.

I know that my PsA will probably progress, and I know that there’s not much I can do in the long run. But I can keep fighting, keep talking, and keep on going. And that’s what I’ll do.

Lee P's Story

I'm 38 years old, this is my psoriasis story.

I've had psoriasis since secondary school. It started with small patches but before long I was covered from head to toe, including fingernails and toenails. The doctors gave me creams but they never really helped.

10 years later I started getting pains in my feet to the point I could not walk down the stairs without struggling. I went to the doctors to be told it was gout and given medication for it.

A couple of years later I moved to a different area and had to change doctors. The pains in my feet hadn't changed so I went and spoke to a doctor who specialised in skin problems. The doctor referred me to the arthritis clinic at the hospital. The doctor looked at my joints and feet and said “yes you have psoriatic arthritis”, and started me on a drug called methotrexate. This meant having blood tests every two weeks because of the side effects, but they were affecting my liver and kidneys so they stopped them and moved me on to a drug called sulfasalazine, but I had to stop them because the orange dye kept on giving me bad headaches.

Then I went to see another doctor who said try and lose a bit of weight, it will help with your arthritis, so I joined a bootcamp (@cambsbootcamp) and have lost 2 stone so far. I was then offered funding for etanercept (enbrel) injections. Within months my arthritis and psoriasis disappeared.

At the moment they have moved me onto Humira because my psoriasis flared up, but it has made my arthritis a lot worse so they are in talks about moving me onto a new drug.

Exercise does help - so far I have run a couple of 5ks, 10k and a half marathon. Next year I am going to run another half marathon and raise money for psoriasis.

Leona's Story

Hello, I am one of the many people suffering with psoriasis in the world. I first got psoriasis after a mild dose of chickenpox at age 13. At that point it was only on my forehead, scalp and ears. It wasn't too noticeable, but after the birth of my daughter at 21 my psoriasis got a lot, lot worse, and now at 27 it is head to toe and causes me no end of issues. 

First there's the flaking on clothes, on the floor, when I'm out, fear of dark colours but also light colours, short sleeves, dresses and shorts. Not attractive at all and very embarrassing. Then there's the itching - so much itching until I'm bleeding. The going out in public with psoriasis, or in the workplace with psoriasis, or taking my daughter out with psoriasis causes me so many levels of self consciousness and anxiety of what I look like, especially when people stare or ask if my daughter is going to "catch it off me". And the depression that my skin doesn't look flawless and how I wish I could have clear skin.

I also suffer with pains in my joints, back, hips, legs and my fingers. Psoriasis is so much more than a visual skin condition, to sufferers like me it's so much more. I'm currently trying another dermatologist and rheumatologist to hopefully try and get some kind of relief.

  • Leah
  • Picture of Lee Jenkinson
  • Lee P
  • Leona

Lisa's Story

I have suffered with psoriasis for as long as I can remember (4 years old to be precise)! My first memory was my Mum putting cream on my patches over my body and having to use coal tar treatments in my hair which I hated because of the smell and how messy it was.

Over the years until I was 17 I’d have the odd patches on my body and scalp but it was manageable. Soon after though I remember it starting to rear its ugly head again with patches appearing here and there. I went to a foam party one night and the next morning my whole body was covered! I cannot even describe how sad, alone and ugly I felt. I did not know what to do and had to wait for 6 weeks to see a dermatologist. Being 17, it totally affected my social, college, work and home life. I felt totally alone as I did not know anyone else who suffered with the disease.

Over the next 20 years I’ve had a total rollercoaster with the disease, using UVB and topical treatments. Surprisingly in both of my pregnancies it totally disappeared and my skin looked and felt amazing! But as soon as the babies were born it pretty much came back straight away.

It is constantly on my mind - especially in a flare up. What can I wear? What skin can I show/not show? Can I go to that event? The pressure is unbelievable and as hard as try I always end up pushing those that care for me away.

My last flare up was last year after a particularly stressful event with my second born. I got prescribed cyclosporine (an immune suppressant drug used for kidney transplants). The side effects are not nice but that is totally outweighed by having ‘normal’ skin to live with. I felt amazing for the year I was on them. I had to come off the drugs after the year as it has such harmful effects to the body - particularly kidneys.

Two weeks later and boom, I could feel it creeping up through my skin. The pain was unbearable - scratching, burning and itching. I felt totally alone again, lost and overwhelming thoughts of looking and feeling ugly.

So here I am now in my second worst flare up in my 34 years of having this chronic skin disease and I am waiting to start methotrexate which is a drug used in chemotherapy acting in the same way as cyclosporine, but it can be used over a longer period and it affects the liver. I’ve had a chest X-ray and umpteen blood tests, which will continue whilst on the medication.

I am looking at totally changing my diet now and I am trying to stay positive and confident in my own skin. My family and friends are so supportive and look at me being beautiful inside and out still. I know this flare up will pass and I am getting on with my life living with this disease.

Lyndsey's Story

Psoriasis appeared in my life when I was 19 and I’ve battled with it ever since… At the age of 36 I‘ve still not been able to accept it. The endless appointments visiting doctors, dermatologists and clinics hoping someone can help me look and feel less of a freak!

No matter how hard I try to ‘accept the skin I’m in’, living with psoriasis is unsightly, flaky, scaly, sore, dry and itchy skin. Looking in the mirror I stare long and hard and wonder why this has happened to me.

My nails, which were once long, and my pride to paint in wondrous colours, are now flaky, short yellow coloured, indented remains. Day to day tasks such as handing over money in a shop I feel so self-conscious. My toe nails, crumbly and yellowed, push from the nail bed causing so much discomfort and pain. Psoriasis is so much more than a bit of dry skin…

I long for the patches to disappear for me to look in the mirror and see me again instead of the hideous patches. Psoriasis has taken away the beauty of my skin and my self-confidence.

Every day is a battle having to hide myself away from the world, as I feel judged and ashamed of how psoriasis makes me look. I plan outfits in advance, ensuring my psoriasis is covered.

I love and loathe the warmer months in equal measure. I love the sun shining and the sensation of the sun beating down on my psoriasis patches, I find the sun helps my skin immensely, but with that I have the loathing and dread of uncovering my skin for the world to see. Wearing clothing that exposes my psoriasis makes me feel horrendous.

People often comment when I wear short sleeves and display the large patches of psoriasis that cover the majority of my arms. Comments range from innocent questions from children asking if I have fell over and scraped my arms, to adults enquiring if I am contagious and suggesting I should try a moisturiser.

In 2017 after yet another disappointing trip to the dermatologist, I decided to take part in a Clinical Research medical trial for a psoriasis treatment. It felt empowering to know I was involved in something that might help psoriasis sufferers. It was my fight back against psoriasis!

I’ve tried every cream, lotion and potion available, I’ve had numerous rounds of light therapy and now I’m on a systemic medication and hoping this helps… Psoriasis is so much more than just a skin condition.

Lynsey's Story

Hi, I thought I’d tell you about my psoriasis story as I’ve seen so many where it has had a negative impact on people.

I’m Lynsey, I’m 30 and I’m an Audiologist. I’ve had psoriasis for most of my life. My first memory of it was a patch on my right knuckle when I was about 4 and I’ve had it ever since. Psoriasis runs through my family. My mum has had it since she was about the same age and I’ve got cousins with different types of psoriasis, but for me and Mum we have plaque psoriasis.

Like I’ve said, I’ve had it for at least 26 years and it has never affected me, I’ve never been bullied, never had it affect my job. I see myself as a bit of a superhero because I heal so quickly. I understand that psoriasis affects people differently but I don’t let it bother me.

I’ve had small patches here and there growing up and at the moment it’s covering about 70% of my body. I have it in my hair, ears, on my forehead, elbows, arms, boobs, bum, belly, back and legs. At 21 I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis too. It doesn’t flare up all too often.

I find that steroid creams help but when I stop using them it just comes back. Moisturisers help but it never goes away. I think I’ve accepted that I will never actually be psoriasis free and I’m ok with it. I’ve just got to learn to cover up and still look stylish. I can’t be bothered wasting my life stressing about something I’ve got zero control over. I would love to help those who are in need of a bit of support too.

Hope I can help someone try to be more positive about their psoriasis.

Lynn's Story

My name is Lynn, I am 15 years old. I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 10.

When I was a little kid, I knew nothing about psoriasis and it didn’t affect any part of my life in the slightest. As I grew up, I started to learn more about it and I realised how it affected my life. I’ve never worn nail polish, and also my nails would get stuck in my hair and clothes. It’s hard to live with. And as I grew up, I started to notice the stares of people who saw a different skin type than theirs.

People were supportive except for a few. But I know that beauty comes from the inside, and I know that someday psoriasis will invade every part of my body. But this is what makes me different. This is what makes me special. I wouldn’t be who I am today, I wouldn’t have the confidence that I have, if it weren’t for my condition.

  • Lisa
  • Lyndsey
  • Lynsey
  • Lynn

Maddy's Story

Ever since I can remember I have suffered with psoriasis on my scalp. It used to be easily managed by shampoo and scalp lotion from the doctors.

As I got older my psoriasis got worse, to the point where it was becoming unbearable. I had it all over my scalp so I went to the doctors again and I was told it might not be psoriasis. Well what a setback that was. I thought I’d been wasting my time and energy in using numerous things that, of course, weren’t going to work if I didn’t even have psoriasis.

Following that I was given even more lotions and potions to try treating my ‘dermatitis’. Well, of course, none of these worked, and flared my psoriasis up even more! So another trip to the doctors it was…

This time I was reverted back to scalp lotion and felt pretty fobbed off and fed up. I felt that I had to just get on with it and cope with it as it was. Luckily for me I’m blonde so it wasn’t obvious I had psoriasis except the constant itching, but it was not visible! That was until it began to appear on my hair line and then could be seen. This was when it seemed to affect me most. I constantly worried, ‘what if?’ What if people think they can catch it? What if people think I’m contagious?

After feeling as if it was something I had to get on with, I plucked up the courage to go to the doctors. How wrong was I? I shouldn’t have suffered. I wish I had gone back to the doctors sooner but just thought I would be fobbed off yet again and would be wasting my time and money on prescriptions that weren’t going to work!

I also suffer with psoriasis in my belly button – the most painful thing ever! Again I was told on numerous occasions it was an infection. I was given antibiotics, antibiotic cream, steroid cream and it kept returning! I was told I had to stop using the steroid cream as it can only be used short term so, again, felt like a lost cause. Luckily I was given protopic cream quite soon after my problems becoming unmanageable and that has worked wonders and I use it regularly to keep my psoriasis at bay.

So recently I went back to the doctors, after suffering for months on end and letting it affect my life and self-esteem. Well what a successful appointment that was. I was given life changing treatments that have not only improved my scalp but also changed my life and boosted my self-esteem no end! It was the first time in a while I have been to the doctors and felt that I was listened to and came out with a positive outcome. I was prescribed calcipotriol and cocois.

I am training to be a children’s nurse currently, and I hope one day I can offer support and reassurance to children who feel how I did, like there was no way out and it was just something that we have to get on with, because it really isn’t! And until it’s controlled you don’t realise the impact it had on you!


Malin's Story

My psoriasis journey started when I was roughly 21 years old. I was working as a cabin crew member and I was living a pretty stressful life, constantly flying to new countries with different time zones and working long hours. This meant that I was always feeling extremely tired and jet lagged. I also met an ex partner around this point and became involved in an extremely toxic relationship.

I would say that the stress caused by my lifestyle at this time was one of the main contributors to my outbreak of psoriasis. It would come on during the tough months, usually on my scalp, and then disappear when life seemed to get better. At one point, I actually remember having it in my ears which meant I was always picking the skin to try and get rid of them, resulting in bleeding. The same went for my scalp, large chunks of dry skin! I absolutely hated how itchy it was!  

The psoriasis then came back at two more prominent stages of my life; the first being when my mum died in 2017, and the second when my little girl died earlier this year. After countless amounts of attempts at trying various creams and ointments etc, these challenging moments were when I discovered that no amount of treatments could get rid of it. They would usually just alleviate the pain. 

I knew in my head that more needed to be done to improve my own lifestyle. I needed to focus more on self-care and take more time out. I also began to make healthier lifestyle choices by including a healthy diet, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol. I worked on mindfulness by starting yoga, regularly meditating and feeding my soul with as much goodness as possible. I can now say that I'm free from psoriasis at the moment as I grow to learn what my key triggers are. 

Marcelina's Story

I first learned about psoriasis in 2006. Nobody in my family was ill. I knew nothing about this disease, nothing at all. I was in the course of a diploma practice which I had at ING Bank in Poland. I wrote a diploma thesis, I was finishing a serious relationship, the family situation was difficult - my parents wanted to go abroad. All at once.

The psoriatic lesion first appeared on my head. The first dermatologist I saw told me that it's nothing important and will pass. So I did not worry if it was "nothing important". The problem, however, got bigger.

After leaving the hospital, I could not wash the oil out of my long hair, so I asked my dad to cut it off completely. Razor to zero. Mama did not agree. I did not want to bother with daily lubrication, washing, lubrication, washing... And hair to the waist... I thought it would be funny, and it turned out that people said I had leukemia. I wore a headscarf because there were visible psoriatic lesions. My family were afraid that they would get infected from me. My grandparents did not know what it was at all.

After completing my diploma thesis I went to the same bank for an internship, and with them I associated my hopes for future work. After six months of internship, I signed a contract with ING in another city and moved there. A few days later, my parents went to the Netherlands. It was as if I lost them forever.

I went to a Polish organisation connecting people with psoriasis, thanks to which I started to meet other people sick like me. I went to general meetings of this Association - meetings, conferences - it turned out that I am not alone with this disease. I learned a lot about the disease, I knew all the traditional methods of psoriasis treatment, and I got used to the idea that it was incurable. I opened up, I started talking about it, also at work.

I still remember, a friend with whom we worked in the branch, seeing me drink from her cup - threw it into the trash, saying that she was abhorred. It was the time when we worked together with another person in a three-person team in a new branch. Then I lost my heart to this place. I could not work with people who disgusted me, but I did not have the opportunity to change branch.

I returned to my parents' apartment during this period, so I commuted 40km daily by train. I started to have more and more problems with the disease, fast pace, stress at work, but there was no time to go to the doctor because I worked every day from 7am to 6pm, plus commuting. The bank's branch was located in the City Hall, so there were customers all the time, there was a constant queue, and the germs made me more and more ill. Psoriasis is associated with immunity, so I became ill more often, longer and worse each time. One time I was called to talk to the director. He said that if this is the case, he will not extend my contract. I was devastated.

Not long after, I received a phone call from the branch in which I had a practice and internship. They offered me an alternative passage. For me this was like something sent from heaven because, thanks to this, the road to work would take me 10 minutes’ walk. I started a new chapter and there was time to see a doctor during the week and not to have to look for someone in the evenings privately. Psoriasis, however, did not let go.

Every year I went to the hospital for treatment - two weeks hospital, two weeks post-abortive relief. For this "luxury" I had to wait until the end of September so that everyone at work could use their holidays during the holiday season. As a rule I could not sit down because my legs would stick. I worked in sweaters or suits all year long because my skin was cracking and bleeding, and the requirement of a white blouse didn’t leave me a lot of choice. Long sleeves were standard for me. I could not show customers the cracking and bleeding on my hands. Long pants regardless of the heat. Only I know how much time I put into my hair in the morning to cover all the changes on my head with hairspray. Camouflage to work on direct customer service was, for me, the basic activity that I had to do every day.

I hid psoriasis at work, but not among colleagues. Due to the annual hospital treatment, I told them what I was struggling with. They accepted me. I talked to them a lot about it, they were incredibly understanding. I never heard a bad word, only words of compassion. They were my second family. We kept friendly contacts also outside of work. I also had many friends with whom I worked in two other companies. Every second weekend we spent on training. And also friends from outside of work - friends for either simple or difficult conversations at any time of the day or night. I've never been alone.

I took care of my grandmother who lived with me. I took her on visits to the doctors, after a hip fracture and insertion of a pacemaker. She suffered from RA and diabetes, and I extended my time to the maximum. I lived fast, intensely, a lot. Everything was on time. My illness was secondary.

I did not care about psoriasis all the time. Until I felt good - it was good... I knew a lot about it, I accepted it enough that I talked about it openly when someone asked me what happened to my skin. I was not scared to live, I did not stay at home, I felt that people should learn about this disease. However, many absorbing activities allowed me to make only individual people aware of things that were "on the way".

There were more and more changes at work in the bank. The friendly atmosphere changed into a rat race, and my parents more often told me to move closer to them.

I left the bank hearing that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I never thought so. Rather I felt that I was free from the gaze of other people, from my personal prison. I could not be myself. My daily work deprived me of a few hours of freedom, because I had to cover my body.

I went to the Netherlands in June 2014. I did not know any foreign language and I had to continue to heal myself. I studied the local health service from scratch, I asked people to go with me to a dermatologist. I started from scratch. Even the medical documentation from Poland did not matter.

I paid for the first six months in the Netherlands with a very bad mood. From the fast, happy, active life I suddenly fell into complete silence. I did not understand anything, did not say anything, I lived like in prison. I worked physically, mostly on night shifts, because my parents worked too, and in the day my daughter could not be alone (she was then 4 years old). I remember this time as sad and at the same time physically tiring.

I started the year 2015 by leaving my job. I could not live that way, and psoriasis was more and more resistant to standard treatment and more and more active. I spent a few months at home, regenerating my strength and skin. The institution that helped me financially offered me a job in a Dutch company, where I could only speak Dutch, so I listened for the first months, still not saying much. In the meantime, I've already learned to speak in English (conversations with people in a previous job helped a lot) so I was independent in dealing with doctors and research. In this work, I started to understand the Dutch language.

2016 brought me the first Dutch contract. I was proud to start work where I was appreciated and where I communicated with people freely. Psoriasis was treated pharmacologically at that time, no external therapies were used. I was also calmer. I had a permanent work contract. Finally, a normal life began, or so I thought...

In September 2016, all this stopped. I have been living with a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis for 1.5 years. At that time I had thyroid cancer, asthma problems and psychological therapy.

I try to help other people. From the beginning of my journey with the disease I have been running a Polish support group for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The group operates under the patronage of the Polish organisation, the Union of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Associations, to help create a better way for people tomorrow.

I try to acquire and expand knowledge amongst patients about these diseases in other countries. I'm running a blog about my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (in Polish language). I want these diseases not to be taboo, and to show that psoriatic arthritis does not break the principles of freedom of life. 

I never lost hope.

Mia's Story

I'm Mia and I am 21 years old. Growing up I had no problems with psoriasis, with the skin condition only showing itself shortly after my 18th birthday.

I had just left home for the first time and moved to Leeds to start university, everything about the experience was daunting but shortly after moving I settled in. After a month of living away, I started to notice a rash on my arms. I presumed this was just caused by the stress of moving and decided to ignore it, hoping it would disappear. A week down the line, the rash was still on my arms and spreading on my legs. Before I knew it, all my arms and legs were covered in sore, red, flaky plaques.

I had numerous trips to doctors and received numerous different creams/steroids to try and help but none of them did. The condition has made a huge impact on my mental health. I was living in a city with new people, now with what I saw as awful skin. I presumed people would want to stay away from me because of this condition. I have suffered from both depression and anxiety since my skin began to flare. I know my psoriasis was a huge factor in the development of these mental health problems.

After living with the condition for three and a half years I am starting to accept it will always be there. I have recently undergone 8 weeks of UVB treatment which helped for as little as a month before my psoriasis came back.

I accept my skin as part of myself now. There will always be days I struggle with the condition and my outlook of it but I can now deal with that. I have luckily had the most supportive friends and family around me while I have been dealing with the mental side of the condition, who are there to pick me up on the days it gets me down. 

  • Maddy
  • Malin Anderson
  • Marcelina
  • Mia

Michelle's Story

Hi, my name is Michelle. My journey with psoriasis began when I was 7 years old and living in my country of birth, Zimbabwe. I am now 24. It started just as one tiny spot on my arm which seemed to have grown every time I looked at it. Not long after that, the spot became a patch, then the patches would show up on different parts of my body and would itch incredibly.

My mum would take me to many doctors who would not be able to correctly diagnose me and, of course, that came with many suggestions for treatment from relatives and people who knew us. I have tried pretty much everything thinkable, being in Zimbabwe, many people suggested natural things that we should try. I remember my mum smoking me in a bath rub of coal and it being so uncomfortable. My mum also remembers someone suggesting she covers me in peels off lemon and of course she did, and I don’t personally remember the experience but my mum remembers it as being one of the most horrific experiences of her life, having to put her child through that and no progress came from it. I have tried many prescribed ointments, light therapy and I’m now on tablets. I tried Ciclosporin, which worked wonders, but it was a short course and once that course was over the psoriasis came back. I then started on Methotrexate which cleared the skin, but always needed the dose to be increased every time my skin reaches a plateau.

When I was 9 my family and I moved to the UK, Nottingham to be precise. It was really odd for me because there were no real restrictions on what your child should look like as there was in Zimbabwe. I thought because I had short hair with stuff that looked like dandruff falling all the time, I would not be able to make friends, but I did.

In secondary school I feel like I suppressed all feelings to do with the psoriasis, I just felt like it was an unfortunate thing I was cursed with and now had to deal with. So, I wore clothes that would ensure it was covered at all times, when I started wearing make-up, I wore layers upon layers just to hide it. When it came to Physical Education, I made sure I was always able to cover my skin and when I wasn’t able to, they were my greatest moments of insecurity. I will never lie and say secondary school was hard for me cos of bullying because it wasn’t, it was hard for me because of me and the way I perceived myself.

I have come to accept that this is not going anywhere, this is a part of me. When I was in secondary school, I desperately wanted to be a model, but I felt that the way I looked wouldn’t let that happen. I know psoriasis won’t stop me from achieving things, granted people will look and maybe ask but there’s absolutely nothing I can’t achieve because of psoriasis. I want everyone with psoriasis to know that you can lead a normal life, you can find love, you can model, you can go to Uni, you can be a celebrity, you can be whatever. Never let his condition stop you because I have allowed it to stop me from many things but that stops today.

Mollie's Story

My name is Mollie, I am 22. I have suffered with psoriasis for as long as I can remember. The first time I remember it really affecting me I was about 13-14, sat in my English lesson and I just couldn't stop itching my elbows. I had never noticed anything before, well not that I can think of now, I just remember thinking it had all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere. My black school jumper was completely covered in white flakes.

It affected me more mentally than physically whilst growing up. I constantly felt like I needed to cover up no matter what the weather because people would always stare.

After one winter I ended up with almost the majority of the centre of my face covered with psoriasis. From this point on it spread like wildfire, patches all over my body, my face, my ears were completely covered, it began to literally eat away at my tattoos. I ended up with such a bad scalp and eyebrows that I started to lose a lot of hair and a lot of brow, resulting in bald patches. A person’s worst nightmare. The doctors prescribed me with Dovobet and another ointment for my scalp, which have both worked to a point. I have recently started to get it under my nails and I am currently waiting to see a dermatologist again.

I started freelance underwear modelling and, after seeing photos of my skin, after doing a portfolio shoot for a friend, I became obsessed. People thought that I was confident and comfortable in my own body and skin but in reality it was the complete opposite. I was obsessed with seeing the slightly photo-shopped version of myself, the version where my skin wasn't either flaking or bright red. That was how I wanted everyone to see me because that is how I thought I was supposed to look... That is the version we see of people on TV and in magazines, right?

It has taken A LOT of time but I have finally begun to accept that it is part of me now, this is who I am. I do not need to be airbrushed to look at a photo of myself anymore, I do not need filters to hide. I am comfortable in my multiple layers of skin, regardless of the many negative comments I have received over the years because I do not match their idea of perfect.

I have to thank my family, close friends and my partner, they have never acted like it does not exist; worried it will upset me but have taught me to learn to accept it; motivated me to use my creams and ointments even when I feel like it is hopeless; made me feel beautiful even when I really haven't felt it. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and, to anyone else that suffers with psoriasis, you are beautiful too. I wouldn’t be me without psoriasis. 

Nakita's Story

Hi, my name is Nakita and this is my psoriasis story.

I’ve always had something wrong with my skin, even from a very young age. I had severe eczema at the age of 3 and I can still remember the pain I was in when it was bad. Everytime someone touched me it felt like my skin was on fire. After a while it settled down and eventually went. 

Later on in life when I started secondary school, I was in PE class when I noticed this dry red ‘spot’ on the back of my leg, so I ignored it and didn’t think anything of it. I then noticed that I had a few dry bumps on my scalp. The following week I noticed another one of these ‘spots’ appear, so I went to my mum about it where she then booked me a doctor's appointment. My doctor took a good look at my skin, diagnosed me with psoriasis, and gave me a steroid cream to try out, but then it rapidly spread from my legs up to the bottom of my back. At this point it wasn’t severe at all, it was only minor.

After a few months of applying the cream, my psoriasis settled down a lot but my scalp was still quite bad, so I went to the doctor's again and got prescribed shampoo and solution to apply to my scalp. Everytime my mum applied the solution I would scream the house down (not literally) - it felt like someone was squeezing lemon juice into an open wound. I can’t even describe the pain I was in. We went through countless bottles of shampoo and solutions but nothing ever cleared my scalp up so I just ‘sucked it up’ and carried on with my life like usual.

As you can imagine, having psoriasis in secondary school totally sucked. By the end of year 9 I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, as well as trying to treat my psoriasis. It was hard but I kicked its butt and I pulled through it! 

And then... in my first year of college the psoriasis came back, and it came back biting! I didn’t want to leave the house, I thought this is the worst I’ve ever had it. I did some research and people have said online that the sun/sunbeds have helped them, so later that year I started having sunbeds and I could not believe the result - after 1 month it had all practically gone! I can wear t-shirts again!!! So I then stopped sunbedding, and kept moisturising my skin so it didn’t go dry again, and it was all good for about 8 months. 

I got admitted to hospital this January with septicemia due to an infection in my kidneys and it almost instantly came back. I thought it couldn’t be as bad as it was when I was in my first year of college, but boy was I wrong. I had never ever seen anything like this before. It was all over my back and there were a few ‘spots’ on my chest but nothing compared to my back.

I went back to the doctors after I recovered from having septicemia, and my doctor told me it has flared up because ‘my body has just gotten over a serious infection and infections can cause psoriasis to flare’. My doctor called it ‘guttate psoriasis’ (I didn’t even know there were different types of psoriasis). At this point she then gave me Eumovate cream to try, alongside more shampoo. I continued to use these as directed by my doctor but, a couple of weeks later, I notice it has started spreading and getting worse on my chest. I also notice that my face is now covered in red patches and dry skin. It hurt to even smile.

Yet again, I went back to my doctor and she gave me this magical cream for my face called Hydrocortisone. It worked wonders for my face, but you’re not allowed to use it for a long period of time so, of course, I eventually ran out of it recently and it has started to come back on my face again. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get as bad as it was again. My doctor also gave me this ‘foam’ called ‘Enstilar’ to try on my skin. It has slightly worked by calming it down but I have recently noticed that new ‘spots’ have appeared on my chest, neck, legs, arms and back. 

When I first had psoriasis I never thought it would be this bad. I have tried so many creams over the past few years that I haven’t mentioned because I can’t remember the names of them, but only a couple have calmed it down. Would I say psoriasis has affected me mentally? Yes, 100%. I used to feel comfortable in my skin and I used to feel pretty when I put make up on, but now, no matter how much make up I put on, I still feel ugly. No matter how much foundation I apply to my skin, you can still see the psoriasis under it. I have massive white scars on my neck and shoulders from previous psoriasis outbursts, that people tend to stare at.

So what I have learnt is, don’t try and hide your skin condition - it is your skin and no one else’s! Sometimes I wish I could talk to someone else who understands me, and understands that going to bed with mittens on isn’t weird because you scratch your psoriasis in your sleep to the point where you have to change your pyjamas because there’s blood all over them. Or someone who understands that you don’t want to leave the house today because it’s really bad and you can’t cover it up with long sleeve tops and a bit of foundation anymore. 

I finally have an appointment to see a skin specialist at the end of this month (April) where hopefully I will be entitled to the UV treatment. I have been waiting for this day for years!! 

Thank you so much for taking your time to ready my story about psoriasis. For all of you beautiful people suffering with the same problem as me, you are not alone in this, we can do this! 


Aged 19. 

Olivia C's Story

My name is Olivia Cheshire. I am currently 19 years of age. I was diagnosed with auto-immune disease about 10 months ago now. For years before I was diagnosed I was every month in and out of the doctors with infections on my hands. They thought it was ring worm. And I was constantly given antibiotics. I was going to work every day with cotton gloves on and doused in Aveeno or Fucibet cream.

They then wrote to Dermatology and asked for me to be seen. When I was seen I cried so much because finally we were getting somewhere! I hadn’t quite prepared myself for what they were going to say. And on that day I was diagnosed with psoriasis and alopecia and auto immune disease.

I felt relief yet upset. They explained there was no cure for auto immune disease and that I would have to have treatments to try and help. I underwent 15 weeks of light therapy having to go to hospital twice a week for treatment. This took its toll as the weeks went by. I got to the highest dose very quickly and then I started to blister with every treatment. The psoriasis didn’t go away and kept getting infected again which delayed treatment because of the open wounds.

From the day I was diagnosed I had to go to bed every evening wearing cotton gloves covered in creams. I felt so abnormal. At 19 years old I couldn't go out and be like the rest of my friends because I needed to be home to do my cream routine. My mum has to wash my hair because the pain of shampoo in the wounds was unbearable. When the nurses told me we were stopping light therapy due to it not working my heart broke. I felt like we were back to square one.

I am now on Ciclosporin 100mg a day, it’s not cleared completely but I can manage it so much better! Psoriasis in 2019 over took my life. I felt abnormal, self-consciousness, broken. I used to be scared of paying for things in case someone felt disgusted having to give me change on my bleeding weeping hands. I used to cry every night, why me. I used to cry about not being able to do normal things.  But this year I am accepting psoriasis is a part of me. It’s not going to go away completely. It will always be there. But it makes me who I am. It’s made me strong.

  • Michelle
  • Mollie
  • Nakita
  • Olivia c

Olivia M's Story

My name is Olivia McCoy I was 19 when I first got a psoriasis, I’ve had it for a year now. It was about 1 year ago the first psoriasis patch came underneath my boobs and chest when I was on holiday with my boyfriend. I thought it was a reaction to something I’d ate or just some sort of sun burn. However, when I got home and showed my mum she knew it was psoriasis as she was one of the worst case children in Liverpool when she was a baby and has had it her whole life. She always prayed I wouldn’t get it but sadly I did.  It was just before I was going back to my second year of university and I think the fear of the unknown got to me knowing I was moving out and all of the assignments coming up...

Starting back at second year was tough, such a big step with so many assignments and the pressure was getting to me. My mum and dad tried to put off telling me that my dad was diagnosed with cancer as they didn’t want me to stress even more. I felt like my world had shattered and I didn’t see the point of anything, the stress of university, moving house and psoriasis. It covered me from scalp to toe, sometimes my hair would even come out, which being a 19 year old girl isn’t ideal. I just felt like giving up.

We went to the hospital first and the nurse gave me a cream which didn’t do a thing, she said it could be ringworm but we knew is 10009 percent wasn’t. It got worse, scaly and flaky and red raw, this resulted in an angry mother and another trip back to the doctors. They then provided me with stronger topical creams like Dovobet gel, this was great for calming the scale and would cool it off, however it did sting like mad and it just made my hair so greasy and wasn’t actually getting rid of it. I was really down and my scalp/ hair was CONSTANTLY greasy and wouldn’t ever dry with the amount of oils I had in my hair to heal the scalp.  (I have plenty of girl problem stories to share that hopefully people can relate to)

It got worse and worse to the point where my body would hurt to move. I was in pain, and couldn’t even get to sleep as it would hurt lying on it.

People tried to give me advice but it was so easy for them to tell me to relax when you just can’t, they say you still looked “perfect “even though you know they were just lying. I never went out, I literally locked myself away, my boyfriend was so supportive but I still felt so insecure as I didn’t want him to think I was ugly. Eventually, after lots of trips back and fourth to the doctors, I was sent to get light therapy for a 12 week course where I would go every Monday, Wednesday, Friday- this was also a pain as it was the last few months of university and the deadlines were coming in. Eventually the course ended and it went down a lot, however it hasn’t ever officially went away and I still have the white scale marks.

l decided to train my mind, to get up and be productive, I researched what helps psoriasis and decided to try my best to cut out dairy and replace milks with plant based milk and eat as many greens as possible which really helped and also helped me lose weight. I try to have a clear mind-set and focus on things as this can have an impact on your skin.

I would love to share my story and journey with psoriasis to young girls especially like me who are in the same situation and let them know it does get better, I feel like especially now a days with social media influencers and body image it's so hard to feel confident, but as long as you are happy in your own skin nothing else matters and I want to teach people to love the uniqueness of it and learn to love themselves.

Olivia R's Story

I have always had psoriasis since I can remember. I remember being in secondary school and having it so bad on my face, but first thinking it was acne and my mam buying all these acne soaps and creams which, looking back now, only made it worse.

I also had it really bad in my scalp. Well I say ‘had’ - I still have it quite severe in my scalp now, but being so young and not having the correct diagnosis was very stressful. My skin on my scalp would get infected very easily and it was awful having to go into school with yellow, flaky skin around my forehead and in my scalp.

I grew out of it being that bad and, from leaving secondary school to being 23 years old, my psoriasis was manageable. I had the right diagnosis and had plaque psoriasis. I always think back to how bad I thought my skin was in that gap from leaving secondary school to turning 23. Little did I know the worst was yet to come.

Just before my 23rd birthday I had what I can only describe as the worst skin flare up I could (and hopefully will) ever have in my life. Literally my skin changed overnight. I woke up with tiny dots over my arms, hands and stomach. I work in a hospital so thought I had caught something from a patient. I went straight to my doctors and they thought I had a hair follicle infection.

3-4 days of taking antibiotics made no difference so I decided to go back to see a different doctor who then told me the devastating news that I had guttate psoriasis which should clear in 4-6 weeks. All I had to do was keep my skin moisturised. I found this information to be an absolute lie!!

As the days, weeks and months continued, I became more covered in these horrendous, ugly-looking dots and they were starting to get bigger as well. The itch was unbearable and I became very low and depressed. I reckon I spent about £300 on things I’d seen people use online who have the same condition and they were completely healed. Nothing helped! Turmeric capsules, probiotics, covering my full body in coconut oil, sea salt baths, going gluten and dairy free. I even ordered a cream from Germany, I think it was, and that didn't help.

Eventually I got referred to dermatology. My appointment came through for June and we were in March! There was no way in hell I could physically or mentally wait ‘til June. Thankfully, with my amazing mam ringing every day to see if there were any cancellations, I got an appointment in April.

I was that low that even going to this appointment and being told I was going to start UVB light treatment at the time made me feel no better. I just thought ‘I had tried everything, why was this going to be any different?’ However, 4-5 treatments down the line I started to notice a difference. I could not believe my skin was changing before my eyes. These little dots were still on my body but they were no longer as thick to feel and the redness was going.

I am now on my 13th UVB light treatment and I'm a completely different person to that lost woman I was in March of this year. I hope this message lets people who are in the midst of suffering with psoriasis at the minute, or in the middle of a bad flare up, know that it will pass - I promise! And try not to push anyone away who just wants to try and make it better for you. Let your family love you because we all deserve it!!

Rachel's Story

Hello, I’m Rach. I’m 33 and have had psoriasis since I was 16. I was initially diagnosed with moderate to severe psoriasis after going to the GP with what I thought was scarlet fever. It went on to become pretty darn severe; literally all my fingernails fell off and my hair came out by the bagful. The spots also started joining up into huge plaques that split my skin from edge to edge and my ears bled. Awesome. The effect that had on my burgeoning young-adult self was fairly catastrophic. I became self-destructive, withdrawn and miserable.

I went on to have a first round of phototherapy (as well as steroid creams etc) - it was very successful and I enjoyed a longish remission. But after around 12 months the pattern repeated itself. A moderate flare, followed up by a head to toe misery-fest; this time even the insides of my eyelids were affected. Given that I had enjoyed success with UVB I rather drastically thought that moving back to Australia (my childhood home) would be a cunning psoriasis miracle fix - it kind of didn’t work out the way I had pictured in my head - I did not become a radiant, psoriasis-free mega-babe! No. In reality I was still a very, very sore and self-conscious young woman, kidding myself that by leaving the colder climate behind and immersing myself in light I’d escape my condition, my split-open skin, my daily blood soaked sheets and my absolute self-loathing. On reflection, I really just wanted to escape being myself. Essentially all I’d achieved was further withdrawing myself.

On a trip back to the U.K. around 13 years ago I met a tall, dark and handsome RAF Engineer and that, of course, was that! What luck, thought I! A gorgeous fella loves me for me. I’m in! Cue marriage, house moves, deployments aaaand MASSIVE PSORIASIS FLARES! After 4 more 8 week rounds of UVB treatment, more “oh, are you sunburnt?” comments and endless steroid ointments, creams and scalp applications and 3 hour shower marathons, I said “Rach, get a grip - put on your brave girl pants and look at the next steps!” Which of course meant systemic drugs. I had my chest X-ray, liver tests, blood tests and pee tests, all set and good to go, but then, pregnant! I’ll tell you something - that little belly lodger waved his magic wand and *poof* goodbye psoriasis! For almost 2 years! Then I finished breastfeeding - and guess what?!... More UVB, more “have you burnt yourself?” more creams, then HOORAH! Pregnant again - a happy 2 years remission, aaand the up and down like a fiddlers’ elbow saga continued - enter the motherload of a flare up. This time bringing with it the onset of psoriatic arthritis: joint pain in hands, feet, knees, elbows and hips. Super.

With a husband deployed in Afghanistan, a house move, two little ones to bring up on my own while trying to hold down a job, I made an educated guess that *perhaps* stress might be playing a part?! Duh! And, sensibly recognising that I MUST NOT USE PREGNANCY TO FIX MY SKIN, I cut my hours, I went on a strict diet and, it sort of worked. A bit. Until it didn’t anymore. What now?!

So, around 4 years ago I started on Cyclosporin - amazing results. Relatively few side effects and my skin, for the first time in my life, was beauty magazine clear and I was so happy. Curveball alert! I then got a big scary brain infection, had to come off the medication and so began a slow recovery back to health.

Because I had already taken Cyclosporin for 2 years, that was now off the table and Methotrexate was introduced - I am still on it to date. My journey with methotrexate has been a rocky one - plenty of side effects, most notably extreme fatigue, nose ulcers (delish!) and some hair loss. I also still flare - albeit very mildly. But, and it’s an important but, no joint pain, Yo! And I am as stable as I have ever been - no searing success highs to heart-breaking, soul destroying lows.

There's now a balance I’ve not had before and to look at me now you would not know that I have psoriasis or arthritis. I would like to envisage a future free from medication and of more acceptance of my condition, but that in honesty still feels a long way from now and I accept that. I recognise how much my condition mentally affects me and so for now I am happy to have found a way through it, to not be desperately searching for the next thing, to finally feel beautiful, and moreover to have found the wider online psoriasis community for their openness, frankness, good humour and good grace. Knowing, seeing and sharing that you’re not alone is more uplifting and empowering than I can begin to describe. 

Rhianna's Story

Hello, my name is Rhianna and I’m 17 years old. I began my psoriasis journey when I was just 11 years old. I remember waking to red, angry patches covering my body, that felt like a paper cut. I was confused and that’s the least I can say.

Weeks before I discovered I had psoriasis, I had moved to a completely different town, hours away from home, leaving behind family, friends and memories. It was a positive new start for me, well that’s what I thought. I hated it! I used to reassure myself that it will get better soon. I became emotionally drained.

I had no idea that psoriasis even existed until my dad reassured me that he also suffers. My confidence was non-existent. I remembered myself being this positive, smiling young girl who had no worries. I stopped doing the things I once loved like socialising and even going to school. I became just blank like a canvas. I lost myself.

I had to undergo PUVA treatment which gave me hope in finding myself again. The treatment left me drained and unmotivated. I had my first experience of sleep paralysis due to how drained I was with the early morning travels to a different town. My face was covered in painful burns. I just felt helpless and sorry for myself.

It was suggested that I talk to someone professionally to just talk. My confidence slowly came back as I began to write my feelings in a book. My psoriasis became unnoticeable from the strong treatment and I just reconnected in general.

Most people with psoriasis will know the struggle of feeling not good enough in your own skin. It’s the learning how to deal with that thought. Accepting your flaws and just being confident. Show strength to those who doubted you and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the pain you’ve put yourself through. 

  • Olivia
  • Olivia
  • Rachel
  • Rhianna

Robb's Story

My psoriasis started in my early teens (back in the Eighties) with a patch on my chest which then spread. At the time the GP prescribed Coal Tar ointment. All I can remember is that it didn’t seem to do very much other than stink to high heaven and leave greasy stains on everything. People would ask what the smell was when I entered the room – it was as embarrassing as the psoriasis itself and I quickly stopped using it and refused to go back to the GP.

I would do my best to avoid getting undressed in public or take my top off on family holidays. I didn’t know anyone else that had it, and the only pictures of it I’d seen were extreme cases in library books. I felt like I was the only one and I was ashamed of what I looked like, so covered it up as much as possible. To my relief, as time passed, it slowly faded and I was almost P-free for a few years.

Unfortunately, as I got older it made a slow return… The patch on my chest became bigger and started to affect my scalp, elbows, knees and legs. In the summer it would be great and my P would fade quite a lot and I would happily sunbathe in trunks. But then winter would come and it would make its return.

Initially it was just a few patches here and there, but it seemed to get worse each year and I finally went back to the GP. Though I tried a number of medications over the years, my psoriasis was getting worse. By 2010 I was borderline moderate/severe – with huge patches on my legs, scalp, and arms. Steroid ointments seemed to work, but then it would come back worse when I stopped. It felt hopeless.

As my career/responsibilities progressed, my levels of stress increased. I smoked, drank, ate badly and did little exercise (all potential triggers) but when I turned 39 I decided that something had to change.

I changed my diet, quit smoking, but most influentially, changed career from working in Financial Services to working in the Fitness industry. This also meant I was exercising more, which is known to help relieve stress, anxiety and depression. This has been a major influence on my psoriasis and has confirmed that the biggest trigger for me was stress. I now enjoy my work, I have a much better work/life balance and my P is a lot calmer.

I was a little self-conscious at first. As a Group Fitness instructor – I can’t hide my psoriasis with long sleeves/trousers – but this has helped me come to terms with my skin. Psoriasis affects my whole body – there are very few places that I don’t have at least a little patch. My lower legs and knees tend to be what most people will spot and I’ll often get asked what I’ve done, as they can look sore and bruised but I’m happy to explain it’s psoriasis.

The thing I find most frustrating is how different it can be on a daily basis, some days it’s hardly noticeable other days it can look like I’ve been scalded – but it’s something that I’m learning to accept. Some days are better than others and I try to manage it as best as I can. Read the latest research and try new creams/treatments.

What works for some, doesn’t for others but not getting too worried about what others think, and knowing that there WILL be days that it’s not as bad/noticeable is what helps me cope.

I hope that by not being ashamed of psoriasis, it will help others feel they don’t need to hide away. In a world of social media filters it’s important to show that imperfections are perfectly normal too.

We are all unique – with so many possible triggers, but also so many things that could help – I would say to anyone, don’t give up. The answer may just be the next thing you try.

Robyn's Story

So I must have been about 6 or 7 when my mum noticed some strange marks on my knees. I'd fallen over a little while before and, during the healing process, something kick started my immune system and my psoriasis came out to play.

Skin conditions were not uncommon within our family. My maternal Nan had suffered with psoriasis and eczema, the latter of which was passed to my sister, who would find childhood trips to the seaside particularly painful as the salt water crept over her sore skin.

One of my earliest memories is going to the hospital after school, sometimes daily, to receive various different topical treatments. After being creamed and left to 'set' I'd get to bath it all off, and my mum would wash my hair in hospital-issue pink shampoo that smelt like sweet almond. I loved it.

Since then, and as I've grown up, my treatments have evolved. Anything from UV to Methotrexate to Biologics, all with varying degrees of success. Typically I start off well with medication but then it's as if someone flips a switch and my body says 'thanks but no thanks'.

One of the hardest times was 'the methotrexate years'. I should caveat this by saying that this is just based on my personal experience - everyone reacts differently - but I really struggled with the side effects. I started taking the tablets on a Thursday evening, which meant most of Friday would be spent feeling like I had the worst hangover, sick to my stomach. Some days I couldn't face the smell of certain foods, others I would be craving greasy carbohydrates and sugar, sugar sugar.

Eventually I moved on to the injections, and for a time this seemed to be a good alternative until a series of quite serious upset stomachs meant I couldn't continue. After that came Otezla and Cosentyx, the latter of which suited me best. Like the Goldie Locks of the psoriasis world, I had stumbled across something that seemed just right! But, for one reason and another, I couldn't continue. Right now, I'm letting everything leave my system and although my patches are creeping back I feel healthier than I have in a while.

I've always been pretty positive about my skin. It is part of me but it does not define me. Sometimes during a flare up it's tempting to cover up, but what would that achieve? Confidence is key, and if I'm not bothered by what's on the outside, why should anybody else be?

Russ' Story

Russ has chosen to share his experiences of psoriatic arthritis by writing a poem. Have a read below, or listen to Russ read his poem aloud instead.

Psoriatic arthritis
What the hell is that?
Are you growing an extra head?
Will you need two hats?

The total lack of knowledge
Totally flummoxed me.
I was having an assessment
At the D.W.P.

I accept that my condition
Is not exactly common.
Even my family’s understanding
Borders on the rotten.

People only see my skin,
They cannot see inside.
I’m too young for arthritis,
People often chide.

They don’t see me in the morning,
Crawling out of my pit.
I’m like Bambi full of whiskey,
Going for a p*ss.

I get some tablets down me,
Cover myself with grease.
A fag and a strong coffee
Brings me inner peace.

I’m ready for the day now,
See what fun it brings.
Already I am giggling,
I can’t open the bin.

Fat fingers are a nuisance,
They’re swollen and they’re sore.
I start to butter a piece of toast
And drop it on the floor.

I must use half a loaf each day,
There is toast everywhere.
But that’s one of the problems
Of having paws like Yogi Bear.

It looks like I’m staying in today,
Using keys is such a chore.
I have been trying for 10 minutes
But can’t unlock the door.

PsA is weird,
Some days it ain’t there.
I feel I could go dancing
Just like Fred Astaire.

Then other days it hits you
With a full frontal assault.
I struggle to even walk
Never mind run like Usain Bolt.

That’s what really baffles me,
How will I be tomorrow?
Will I be dancing in the street?
Or drowning in my sorrow?

The latest drug really helps,
It’s fresh off the shelf.
For the first time in 20 years
I feel like myself.

Sally's Story

I've had plaque psoriasis my whole life, I’m 26 now and having grown up it seemed to pretty much go away. The odd bit would flare with stress but nothing like when I was a child. As a kid I was covered. We used to joke that mum and dad had a lizard, rather than a little girl.

However then in October last year I got a sudden blast of tonsillitis out of the blue. This made me get my first ever case of guttate psoriasis, which covered my entire body and was more painful than anything else my skin had thrown at me so far in my life.

My mental health took a turn for the worse, I stopped dating and I hated myself. Something so visible on your skin impacts your whole life and you feel so alone. But in reality, I wasn’t alone. It only started healing when I went to see a dermatologist privately. Unfortunately that cost me a month’s rent but I made it work for the sake of my health.

I’m starting to look like myself again and more importantly, feel like myself again and I don’t hate what I see in the mirror anymore.

My trouble seemed to educate a lot of my friends, my family and my workplace about the issues of auto immune diseases and for that at least, it’s a good thing it happened. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now and I attack my days like I used to.

It’s not defining me, no way.

  • Robb
  • Robyn
  • Russ
  • Sally

Sophia's Story

My journey with psoriasis...

It started 15 years ago. I was called fat at school so I decided the best thing to do would be not eat, time went on I got really poorly and also ended up having a kidney infection. My immune system wasn’t strong enough on its own. Then all of a sudden my face trebled in size as a reaction. I started getting red spots come up like a small rash. I thought it was a reaction to the medication the hospital had me on and so did the doctors. Within 2 days I was covered, minus my face, from head to toe. 

It took weeks for the doctors to realise what it was. 

Then I was told it was Psoriasis but it was ok because it would just ‘clear up’. My health got better but my psoriasis was still there. It had calmed down but it was there. I had to go back to school and it was summer so everyone was in just a T-shirt, not thinking I took my jumper off and few people saw it and made fun of it. So that was it, the jumper went back on and in the last 13 years I’ve hid my skin from the majority of people. 

Having psoriasis had led to anxiety and depression. I’ve really struggled with this and to this day I still take antidepressants and tablets for my anxiety because I’m so disgusted by my own skin and I’m petrified of other people’s opinions. I have been looked at like it’s contagious or people feel the need to stare at it because I’m different and people have made nasty comments about it. 

I’d refuse times out with my friends because I didn’t want anyone to see it. I’ve cried way too many tears to count because of psoriasis. My confidence basically disappeared. My relationships have ended because of it. I’m scared to meet new people because of it. 

Every treatment I have tried has not worked for me. Or has for a certain amount of time. 

When I have a flare up I literally hibernate. Nobody would see me. I can’t even put into words how psoriasis has made me feel, how embarrassed, disgusted and hateful for myself.  I’m just sick of being me. The way the media is everybody looks so perfect they have beautiful skin why can’t that be me? 😩 I just want normal skin. Just as I was kind of coming to terms with the skin I’m in it got worse but it wasn’t just my skin now, I just felt different. I was then diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Stressed and upset by this here comes another flare up of course. That little bit of self-hope I just got back. Gone with in a click of the fingers. 

Then I was scrolling through social media one day and came across Selflovebynatalieamber. She helps people with body confidence shoots. In a moment of madness I messaged to get involved. Please have me 😂 let’s raise awareness for psoriasis. 

The shoot wasn’t till October so I had a few months to get ready for it. 

Those few months flew by, the 2 days before I was panicking like what I could do to get out of this. Everyone encouraged me to go. I bit the bullet I went. I’m so so happy I did. Natalie Amber was/is amazing she made me feel amazing. I started of in my dressing gown so scared to show my skin by the end I was in my underwear! Psoriasis, what psoriasis? 🤷🏼‍♀😂 I now want to raise awareness for psoriasis and I want us to feel comfortable in our skin. My mind-set has completely changed! I have psoriasis I’m not going to hide anymore. I’m going to help others with it and make people more aware of it! All thank you to Natalie Amber. #selflovebynatalieamber

Sue's Story

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at the age of 29. Although looking back I’ve had it all my life. I was always at the doctors with aches and pains, sprained tendons and breaks. I was very sporty as a child, and I think this actually helped me with the pain, although it also masked the arthritis.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I developed pustular arthritis and my husband wouldn’t go near me. That was to become the story of my life. He wouldn’t help me attend doctors or hospital appointments. I did all that alone.

When my father died, the psoriasis came out in force. My skin was a mess, especially my scalp. I couldn’t wear black for fear of people thinking I had dandruff. A hairdresser actually tried scraping it all off saying that I hadn’t rinsed properly. After intense therapy at Amersham hospital, I now have it under control and now use a shampoo regularly to control it.

Four years ago I became so ill with the arthritis I couldn’t walk and went to the Rheumatologist in desperation. I was put on Methotrexate and, after a while trial varying amounts, I am now settled on 20 mg a week by injection.

So four years on, and now 55, I am managing my psoriasis and my psoriatic arthritis and am able to do more and have restarted the Couch to 5K! How happy this makes me is immeasurable.

Tom's Story

Hello everyone! My name is Tom, I’m 23 and I have psoriasis. I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 18 but in hindsight I think the signs of the condition were there from a much younger age…

I was fortunate enough to go to a wonderful school with a fantastic ethos surrounding education and involvement so I never really suffered from bullying or name calling. However it was very apparent to all that I had particularly bad “dandruff” often showing up very prominently on my dark uniform. Despite the inclusive and friendly nature of school I still felt that I needed to brush off the flakes at regular intervals to prevent people thinking it had been snowing outside! Even though there was never an issue it was something I was very conscious of, especially when people were offering advice on shampoos and methods for tackling it. Nothing seemed to work, and I remember wondering why I seemed to be the only person who also had dandruff in my eyebrows.

Being a typical teenage boy, I didn’t really care about my appearance. I rarely used to stare at myself half clothed in the mirror, so it was only when on a family holiday (aged 16) in southern Italy that my Mum noticed a small red patch developing on my lower back. Being the “doctor phobe” that I was I didn’t really listen to Mum’s concerns as it wasn’t affecting my quality of life. It did start to become itchy though, especially straight after sport but I left it, hoping it would disappear.

In my final couple of years of school, the patch grew larger and larger and I started to feel self-conscious about taking my shirt off. This was a big problem given I adore sport (especially rugby) and so getting changed for rugby, swimming, water polo, athletics etc. did become a little awkward for me. I bottled it all up and didn’t speak to people about it, constantly hoping it would all just go back to normal (whatever normal is). Although a little self-conscious, my school days were brilliant, and the psoriasis hadn’t really shown itself yet. Retrospectively though, the warning signs were there.

Aged 18 in my first year of University was when the real problems started. Whether it was the general stresses of leaving home, beginning a new part of my life, or the excesses of my newly found love of alcohol, in the first term of university I had my first “flare-up”. Initially I kidded myself the little red patches that were developing on my body were from rugby and the general grazes and knocks that come along with the sport, but when my scalp and face started to become red, sore and itchy I knew there was an issue. Some of my fellow players thought it was “scrum pox” from rubbing my head on others in the scrimmage and mauls but I thought it was time to seek medical advice.

I was almost immediately diagnosed with psoriasis and the doctor gave it to me straight. “It’s a condition that has no cure and you’ll have it for life. It’s just about managing it." Although it was great to have a diagnosis, it really knocked me. I can remember phoning home quite upset knowing it would be a constant presence in my life and feeling very insecure. I felt quite isolated not knowing anything about the condition or anyone else with it.

After this diagnosis my skin only seemed to get worse with various creams and gels seeming to have little or no impact. I started reading about it online and cutting things from my diet (with varying results). One time in the summer of first year my skin cleared up for a few months (when I was in Australia) but then the psoriasis came back worse than ever before with reddening of my skin and scaly, flaky plaques appearing on almost 50% of my body.

This rollercoaster of treatments and flare-ups continued through my second and third years of University and it was quite a difficult time for me. There were good times like playing rugby and enjoying beers with my friends, and I was always lucky enough to meet lovely and understanding girlfriends. However, there was also lots of awkward times in my studies and my personal life especially with people commenting on how sunburnt I was or cracking jokes about my skin. Often, I think it was because of a lack of understanding rather than with any real intent, but their words did hurt, and I did feel extremely self-conscious of how I looked. My family and friends at this time were superb and especially amongst the boys I lived with were very understanding. However, outside the house I became a bit of a night owl. As obviously at night in dark clubs and bars etc. you couldn’t see my skin, so I felt more confident and I felt I could act like everyone else and this was bizarrely where I felt most comfortable. Obviously that’s not really how you should live.

At this point I started making friends with some more people who had the condition at University and started to really engage with the literature online surrounding other people’s experiences. I found reading about other people really helpful and it allowed me to have the confidence to start talking about it more myself. The reason I’m detailing my experiences for the Psoriasis Association’s ‘50 for 50’ is because I know how valuable reading other people’s experiences is to me and I hope that with increased awareness and exposure everyone suffering with the condition will get some confidence, the way I did. It’s no secret that poor mental health is linked with psoriasis and anything that can be done to reduce this impact, through exposure and education I fully support.

Now the good part…

Just as I was finishing my first degree I finally found the right treatment for me and this was a massive turning point in my life. The Enstilar foam is something I use almost daily, and it is the right treatment for my skin. All the plaques decreased rapidly just from my first treatment and even if I have a bad flare up it softens their appearance. Having a skin condition like psoriasis that is so visual can be very damaging to your self-esteem and mental health so finding something that worked for me was incredible and I couldn’t be more thankful for every day that goes by now with my skin looking like everyone else’s. I think the plaques are often magnified in our own heads when we have flare-ups but to have something that I can use to combat them makes me far more confident and I think that’s what it’s all about. Being comfortable in your own skin. My final year at University was fantastic and after lots of peaks and nadirs it was great to leave University on such a positive note doing all the things I love doing surrounded by people I love.

Finishing University earlier this year meant now having the time to commit to UVB treatment, which I’m currently undergoing. When I was in Australia my skin improved vastly so the Doctors thought UVB would work well, which it has. The light treatment is working wonders with my skin and especially in regions that are harder to manage just with my Enstilar. With the UVB, Enstilar foam, and confidence I now have talking about my skin, I couldn’t be happier. Almost the exact opposite of how I felt a few years ago. My skin now looks fantastic, but even if in the future I do have flare-ups I hope that with the increasing exposure and education on the condition that hopefully people who also have psoriasis (and other skin problems) will find the strength to manage it and become confident in their own skin.

Thank you,


  • Sophia 2
  • Sue
  • Tom Porter 8

Share Your Story With Us

Are you inspired by other people's stories and interested in sharing your own experiences of psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis? Would you like your story to be featured on this page, and on our social media channels?

We are looking for...

  • Your story of life with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (or both) in your own words
  • Ideally 400 words or less (if you want to write more, that's fine too)
  • A photo of yourself to accompany your story (you can provide as many photos as you like)

  • If you're interested in taking part and sharing your story, or you'd like more information about the project, please contact us at

The Psoriasis Association is the UK's leading national charity and membership organisation for people affected by psoriasis – patients, families, carers and health professionals Read More >

Get in touch

The Psoriasis Association Dick Coles House 2 Queensbridge Northampton NN4 7BF

Email: mail@psoriasis-association.org.uk

Tel :
01604 251 620
WhatsApp :
Registered with Fundraising Regulator -

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