The 29th of October is World Psoriasis Day. It’s a day I love, and a great reminder to celebrate, educate others and support those still going through the journey to embracing their psoriasis.
Many people think that psoriasis is a skin condition, as it appears on the skin, but that’s not true. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, scaly patches on the skin due to systemic inflammation.
I, like many others who have psoriasis, have been through a lifelong journey of acceptance and embracing who I am. I was 20 years old and in my final year of university when the first patch of psoriasis appeared on my face. No bigger than a 20p, I had no idea what the condition was.
Having had skin issues such as acne, impetigo, shingles, and various rashes all my life I didn’t think much of the patch at first and didn’t go to the doctor as I assumed it would just go away eventually.
At the end of 2014, my skin was getting worse. It had spread across my forehead and other areas of my body, and in the midst of a deep depression I decided to go to the doctor for help. My confidence had hit rock bottom and I was so self-conscious.
Between 2014 and now, my psoriasis has taken me on a roller-coaster of emotions. From having psoriasis covering most of my face and other areas of my body, to being completely clear, to developing psoriatic arthritis – self-confidence is not something that I have always had.
This World Psoriasis Day, the theme focuses on lifestyle factors that may be important to consider when living with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. In this blog, I am going to share with you some of the lifestyle changes I have made over the years that have taken my self-confidence from rock bottom to loving myself despite the size of the patches on my face.
The first thing I changed was my diet. Not drastically, but I found that the student diet of fast food, processed food, and alcohol was causing my skin to be itchier, redder, and more irritated that I could handle. Now, I am not saying I have cut these out altogether – everything in moderation, right? I have however, noted that these are my trigger foods and can cause my flare to become worse.
To combat this, I try to eat better which has many benefits and helps keep me from trying to scratch my psoriasis patches off. This increased my confidence as it meant my skin wasn’t as irritated or red and meant I was not scratching at it as much during the day and leaving flakes behind me.
It’s worth saying that dietary triggers can be different for everyone, as psoriasis is connected to the immune system, which can sadly mean some trial and error.
When I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at the end of 2018, I was in so much pain and could barely walk. Again, my confidence hit an all-time low and I felt like I was right back at the start of my journey all over again.
In 2019 it was suggested that I tried exercise and in particular weight-lifting to help ease the pain of the arthritis. I had been avoiding the gym for years in fear of people looking at my psoriasis as well as the intimidation I sometimes felt in gyms.
After some extensive Googling, I found a small, group personal training gym that offered classes too. It seemed like what I was looking for and I decided to sign up. I have been going to this gym for almost two years now (not including the pandemic break) and I can’t believe the difference this has made to my life and my confidence.
I regularly lift heavy weights and my self-confidence is higher than it has ever been. I have done things that I never thought my body can do and achieved things I would never have dreamed of doing when I was first diagnosed.
It’s amazing what a space that encourages you and celebrates small wins can do for your confidence. Plus, my trainer also has psoriasis and proudly shows off her patches in the gym. When I saw this on day one, I knew it was the gym for me. Her confidence has also rubbed off on me!
Good luck to anyone out there trying to understand what helps and hinders there psoriasis! Have a wonderful World Psoriasis Day!