Ruth's Story

Ruth, who shared her experiences in the PsoProtectMe survey, tells us how the pandemic has affected her psoriasis and how keeping positive and active has helped her to manage her skin.

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I’ve had psoriasis since I was nine years old and as a teenager went through various treatment programmes including UV light therapy. For years I’ve tried to manage it by myself, not wanting to use creams and other treatments with side effects. Years of dermatology departments and treatments at a young age left a bit of a scar on my memory. But this year has been something else!

Early this year I was coping ok with it, moisturising several times a day and in early March I started to wear cotton fingerless gloves all the time. My hands were getting very dry and that was making my psoriasis worse. I really only had my hands, a small patch on each elbow and a patch on my lower back to worry about and it was pretty much under control.

I thought I had a fairly good handle on things; we’ve not been directly affected by COVID-19 insofar as my family and friends are all healthy. But it’s the worry and stress that hit me. Running my own business, I had to close it down for a month during the UK lockdown and although I turned my hand to raising money for charity instead, the fear of the unknown started to creep in. Before I knew it, all patches of psoriasis had grown significantly and new patches developed. I came across a new (to me) over the counter cream in the pharmacy and gave it a whirl, initially with good results but it’s not working now. It kind of became a bit of a cycle that I couldn’t break – worrying about life in general because of the pandemic, seeing the effect on my skin and worrying about that, which I believe actually made my skin even worse.

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I now realise that although I’ve been outside a fair bit over the summer, pottering in the garden, horse riding and dog walking, I’ve mainly been covered up plus I haven’t had a week in the sun that I usually have every year or any down time from work. Now the patches have grown significantly bigger and spread to other areas. As for my hands, well I’m sure others can relate that increased and frequent hand washing plus using antibacterial gel has not been kind to our skin. I now have a small bottle of moisturising cream next to every sink in the house!

I have followed the progress of the pandemic, taking part in various studies and volunteering information where I can to support research, so I was really interested in the PsoProtectMe survey and work they are doing to understand the impact of the pandemic on psoriasis. I think it’s really important to support organisations that are carrying out research and really hope that my input helps.

I’m still trying to manage it myself and my next step will be to look into hypnotherapy as a treatment as I was part of a clinical study many years ago and had a lot of success with it.

For now, I’m eating a healthy diet and keeping my exercise levels up through running (recent Couch to 5k graduate) and horse riding. I know, for me, that staying positive and active really helps.

If you'd like to help support vital research into COVID-19 and psoriasis please take the PsoProtectMe survey. The survey is for everyone with psoriasis to complete, irrespective of whether you have had symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

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