Linzi - Pustular psoriasis

A severe flare of pustular psoriasis left Linzi needing a stay in hospital for treatment. Five years on and she is in a much better place with her skin.

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I am Linzi, 35 years old and I live with my husband and 3-year-old daughter, Isla, in Scotland. My psoriasis started in tiny patches just over 10 years ago when I started as a primary teacher. My pustular psoriasis did not appear until a few years later with a particularly severe flare that took several GP visits and consultant appointments to be properly diagnosed.

When it first appeared, winter had set in, I had a very challenging class that year and suddenly my body was 60% covered in red, inflamed, broken skin, and on top of that, little whitehead spots had joined the madness from my chest down to my knees. I went back to my GP but unfortunately, was at the end of the queue because I had previously been discharged as an outpatient. The wait for an appointment began. But I could not wait.

My Mum paid for me to go private. A 15-minute consultation with a dermatologist and I was diagnosed with pustular psoriasis. I had never heard of this before and was told to stop using all steroid treatments immediately, only emollients to soothe. I was given a letter for my doctor to be seen urgently by an NHS dermatologist.

When I finally got an appointment at my local hospital, I was admitted to the dermatology ward that same day. A mixture of relief and disbelief hit me simultaneously; finally, I was getting some help, but I could not believe I was going to stay in hospital because of a skin condition.

Due to the raw nature of my skin and the need to stabilise my body, I could not try most of the normal avenues for psoriasis treatment like light therapy or coal tar. My consultant recommended Ciclosporine, a heavy-duty drug originally prescribed for transplant patients which can be effective in treating severe psoriasis. After 9 months on Ciclosporine, 3 months longer than my consultant had hoped, my skin was stable enough to move to an at-home coal tar treatment, which smelled foul but worked.

After a period of clear skin, I had a flare that was nowhere near the levels previously reached so I was offered light therapy. This worked wonders and although disruptive for 8 weeks, having to visit the hospital three times a week, my skin responded very well to it.

Five years on and my skin is much clearer and manageable. I still have spots on certain stubborn areas but no active pustules/whiteheads so, to my knowledge, I no longer have pustular psoriasis. I have not needed or seen a dermatologist since my last light therapy 2 years ago. I am now able to spot my triggers of stress and diet and manage my flares with a balanced diet, exercise and alternative routes for stress management such as breath work, yoga and meditation.

I also believe an acceptance that I do not need to be completely clear to feel content has helped my skin. Becoming a mother played a part in changing my priorities and giving me a greater perspective on what matters the most to me. Your worth and happiness are not defined by having clear skin.

Read more real-life stories from people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.