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Looking for the positives

With psoriasis it is very easy to get bogged down with depressing and negative thoughts. Restless nights, constant fatigue, sore skin, anxiety and embarrassment are all common with psoriasis patients so it easy to see why psoriasis patients do not always have the most positive outlook on life. A few people have commented to me recently that I have changed this year, the negativity is mostly gone and I appear happier. This hasn’t only been following treatment to give me clear skin (for a short while), it has been a determined mental change in my attitude.

Getting down, fed up and depressed about my condition was making me, well, it was making me fed up and depressed. I also know that how I feel and act affects those around me. There have been factors that have helped, the arrival of Bob the cat last year and my decision to leave a stressful job have also had an impact. I do think that if I had not made changes to work and to my attitude towards psoriasis that I may have soon been back on the precipice looking down into the darkness of depression.

One of the ways of fighting psoriasis, I discovered this year, is to find a positive out of every situation where psoriasis attacks. Recently I went to the work’s Christmas party. It was in a great venue, we had an excellent hotel laid on for us to stay and I was really looking forward to the night. Being Christmas, everywhere was busy and the venue soon became very warm, especially for someone with psoriasis. I could feel my skin starting to crawl, then the itching started and I felt like I just needed to escape. When I get uncomfortable like this, I become very self aware of how much I’m fighting and scratching and so the anxiety sets in. The only way I find to stop this is to leave, which is what I did, with a little bit of guilt about leaving my colleagues so early. I got back to the hotel feeling angry with myself and after cooling down and putting on some cream I started to relax again and felt a lot better.

So my Christmas party was cut short and psoriasis looks on laughing, thinking it has won. Let me tell you , Psoriasis, you didn’t win. My wife and I had big plans for the next day, shopping in London followed by dinner and a show. The only problem was, we had left the tickets for the show at home. So here’s looking to the positive. At 5am in the hotel when my wife, unable to sleep, suddenly realised the tickets were at home I was of sound mind and not hungover to check the internet to see if we could get replacements. The answer was no. Luckily we were staying close to the station and my bright clear head, but tired body, was able to jump on a train and head back home to get the tickets before breakfast at the hotel. If anything, psoriasis actually helped me. If it hadn’t been for that mini flare up I may have not been in any state to make that mad dash home and back which would have made a big change to our plans. So thank you psoriasis, I’m not sure how you knew we’d forgotten the ticket.

With Christmas so close it is important to me to stay in a positive mood and I hope this little tip helps other patients. Just remember, even when psoriasis looks to be winning, you can turn it around. Happy Christmas all and I wish you a healthy and itch free New Year.

I have been honoured with a nomination in Healthline’s Best Health Blogs of 2014 and I need your votes. I am not sure how this blog has managed to get this far. What started as a rant and sounding board to stop myself going insane seems to have grown and I am still amazed that anyone finds this at all interesting. Thank you to everyone for your support, it is truly appreciated and has stopped me from giving up on the blog several times.

If you do have the time and feel that you would like to vote please visit the Contest Site. To find my blog you need to search for “myskinandi” or “psoriasis”. If you do vote, thank you.

I wish you all good health and will take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Simon.

http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest

Being Watched

I went very quiet on the subject of psoriasis after my light treatment earlier this year. Thinking about it, I was just glad that my skin was cleared and didn’t have to worry about how I looked or feeling tired after another sleepless night. Things have been good, new job, new skin, well it’s like having new skin. Things seem to be on the up. I can walk through town in short sleeves without worrying about people staring at me, well they may look at me and think “put a coat on man, it’s winter”. It would be even better if I could shake off the feeling of being watched though. I can feel eyes burning into me, watching my every move as if they’re waiting for something. I can see this person out of the corner of my eye, partly hidden in shadow. I can’t make out their face, it’s almost like they’re not really there.

The person watching me is me, Simon with psoriasis. He’s there watching for any sign of weakness, winter coming, my recent cold, a few failures in the kitchen that have been stressing me out, a very busy time at work to pile on a bit more stress. The old Simon (okay younger Simon but you know what I mean) may have crumbled and given in to Psoriasis Simon. Ten years or so with this condition has taught me a lot and with words from friends and family ringing in my ears the fight is a little easier.

What Psoriasis Simon doesn’t know is that I know how to deal with a cold now and whilst a week or so ago I thought a flare up was coming, it was only a mini flare. Yes I still have a few more patches but they’re not red, they’re not too itchy and they’re calming down already. So many winters with psoriasis and I know how to deal with that. Yes work is busy, for the company I work for it is a very busy time of the year for us. Is it stressful? I guess it is, is it going to be an ongoing, tear your hair out kind of stress? No. It’s the good kind of busy, it means we’re doing well and it is a great bunch of people who I have the pleasure of working with. Dare I say that work is fun? Yes, I dare.

So to the kitchen, This has been harder to deal with. Food is my passion and with under-cooking, burning and dropping dinner in the sink, my temper has been strained and my brain a little frazzled. This is one of the toughest things for me to deal with, not being able to cook. As I rapidly lose my cool Psoriasis Simon looks on with a smirk, his scaly fingers reach out to take hold.  year or so ago I may not have been able to shake loose from that grasp. Now, with a hug from my wife, a few minutes to myself and very long count to ten, oh and a “I am never cooking again” tantrum, the next night I am back in the kitchen.

I would like to say my return to the kitchen the next night was a success, I think it was. It seemed to be okay but my cold has been the type that I really can’t taste anything. Tagliatelle and pesto with added basil and extra garlic gave me a hint of flavour. The four measures in a JD & Coke meant I could actually taste the JD. This is stress for me, this is where Psoriasis Simon starts creeping back. Somehow I have kept my cool (ish), I have cooked each night apart from last night when my wife made a lasagne, which I am rubbish at and for the first time this week I could taste…… so maybe my cooking wasn’t too good after all.

This post, Being Watched, started of looking like one of my old depressing posts about psoriasis controlling me, making me mentally unstable and destroying my life. I’ve learnt to take moments like this and turn them around. Psoriasis Simon can watch, he can stare as much as he likes, I hope he enjoys the view of me getting on without him. I may even be nice enough to let him have some of my cooking.

Calmurid® Pro

Swiss Dermatology company, Galderma, recently launched Calmurid® Pro, a skin care range for people with dry to extremely dry and uncomfortable skin conditions. I was asked if I would like to try the new range and over the last two weeks I have been trying three of the products. Here are my thoughts on this new range.

Calmurid Pro Body Hydrolotion (200ml; RRP £12.99) is developed for normal to dry skin and the easily-absorbed lotion contains 2% Urea to help increase water content in the skin.

The Hydrolotion is what I would consider a light body lotion. I found that the lotion spreads very easily and soaks in really quickly so when they say it is “easily absorbed” they are spot on. As it is a lotion, it is something I’ve found useful for putting on in the morning when I am getting ready for work. It soaks in and your skin feels dry fairly quickly, this means not having to add time to your morning routine. My skin is fairly clear at the moment so this is pretty much perfect for my current needs. It is for normal to dry skin so if your psoriasis is severe this would not be the product for you. At the end of the working day I found my skin was still feeling fairly good and had very little itching during the day.

Calmurid Pro Very Rich Ointment (100ml; RRP £13.99) is suited for targeted treatment of extremely dry skin, including infants. It contains 75% natural almond oil to moisturise and soothe dry and dehydrated skin and can be used daily.

The ointment was the product I was concerned about, The word ointment always makes me think of something sticky and greasy. Of course it is more oily than the lotion, it is for drier and more difficult areas of your skin. However, I would say it is more of a cream than an ointment (I am sure there is some scientific difference between a cream and an ointment). It contains almond oil which is often included in many treatments. I have used this mainly on my knees, ankles and elbows and it has definitely softened those areas. I put it on before using my current topical treatment, Dovonex. It is always a good idea to soften your skin before using a topical treatment. With a high oil content is does leave you feeling a little greasy although not in an irritating way. I do tend to only use this at night though.

Calmurid Pro Moisturising Hand Cream (50ml; RRP £7.99) is ideal for dry and damaged hands and contains a nourishing blend of emollients and vitamin B3 in a light formulation for rapid absorption.

This works very much like the Hydrolotion, it is a thicker cream and soaks in very easily. You certainly do not need a lot as I found out when I first used it. A small spot on each hand is all you should need. I found it was best to apply in the morning and then mid or late afternoon as a top up. I am having a little trouble with my hands lately so drier than normal and this has definitely helped. It doesn’t leave your hands feeling too greasy, very handy for applying just before driving to work so my hands don’t slip on the steering wheel.

All in all this range is definitely worth trying out. It is there to help with dry skin and does not claim to be a cure for psoriasis. As with all your psoriasis treatments you still need to keep your skin moisturised. The range is available at Lloyd’s Pharmacy and you can buy it online, click here to go to the website. At the moment they have reduced the price from the RRPs quoted above.

Click here if you would like to know more about Galderma.

Winter is Coming

It may be quite clear from the title of this post that I am a Game of Thrones fan. This isn’t going to be a post where I relate psoriasis to The Game of thrones, although it has crossed my mind that I could be Simon of the House Stark fighting the might of the House Psoriasis. Or maybe I am one of the Whitewalkers and the healthcare professionals are the Night’s Watch. The fun I could have making up my own little parody world. I simply used the title to say what it means, winter is coming, and for psoriasis sufferers and others with dry skin conditions this can be the worst time of year. In the past I have been pretty poor at preparing myself for the cold mornings and chilly winter nights. This is the first winter for some time where my skin has been relatively clear to start with so usually I am already in the midst of a routine. This year I have to think about it and for my psoriasis addled brain that is a task I find most tedious. So here are my tips for preparing for winter.

Moisturise. Sounds simple really and it is. Get a good moisturiser to start that protection and do it every day whether you’re going out in the cold or not. For me currently I use a lotion during the day as they’re lighter and soak in better than creams or ointment. At night a good cream moisturiser is a must, build up the protection of your skin before the next day. Aveeno, Boots Derma Care and Epaderm are my usual stock items. Always worth trying something new though so keep and eye out on offers. Avoid anything with added perfume. For added protection, baby oil at night is good, I found Mia Moo do a good baby oil.

Make sure you have a stock of your topical treatment (if using one). It seems there are many supply issues with a lot of the medications lately so make sure you don’t run out. Always important and more so in winter as it is a time when flare ups can attack quickly. I won’t suggest anything here as you need to consult your doctor on the best medication.

Hand cream. Oh I sound so masculine. Make sure you use a good hand cream, your hands are more exposed than most of your body so they need some extra protection. The main one I use is Aveeno hand cream, for me it is the least greasy. I am trying something new at the moment though and will let you know how that goes.

Don’t forget your face. This is an area that I have found difficult to manage in the past, I find a lot of creams leave my face feeling  greasy. For men I would suggest a good after shave balm or moisturiser. I tend to go for L’Oreal or Nivea’s skincare range. Sometimes pricey but the best I have found. Sorry I can’t really suggest anything for the ladies out there.

Have a bath. Firstly your friends and family will thank you for it. Don’t have it too hot as it will just dry your skin and out and you can risk damaging your skin. There are plenty of additives you can put in the bath, sea salts, balneum, oilatum. Not only do they help protect your skin, you can light a few candles, put on some music and relax so it’s quite therapeutic. If you prefer showers, you can wash with most moisturisers, Epaderm is good or you could get yourself a big tub of Diprobase or Boots Derma Care.

As it is coming up to Christmas there are a lot of offers out there so take advantage and stock up. Put some on your Christmas list and get the family to buy you a few bits. They will be presents you will definitely use and save you a lot of money. I would like to say that the ranges I mention above are ones I always have in my cupboard, I am not sponsored by them or asked to promote them, hence no links to their sites. They are simply what I find works and may not be suitable for everyone. Our skin is unique, you are unique so find what works best for you.

If, like me, you have psoriatic arthritis as well then the cold is definitely not our friend. The only advise I can really give for this is wrap up in layers. I find then if I get too warm I can just shed a layer and cool down gently which may even prevent the effect of sudden cooling and heating on your skin. I know this is not so easy if you’re going out to a party, if you look after yourself most of the time then you can have those days where you maybe don’t layer up as much or use as much moisturiser. If you are looking for tips on what to wear, my friend The Flaky Fashionista always has great ideas. So now we’re set for the winter and the party season will soon start so get out there and enjoy yourselves and try not to think about psoriasis too much.

Anyone that has been following my progress on light therapy may have seen the improvements during the course. Well it has now come to an end, actually it finished just over a week ago. and so here are the results. I have just put the start and finish comparisons on this post. This is after seven weeks of UVA light therapy. How long it will last, I don’t know. All I know is that I am sleeping, not itching and not sore. It is a liberating feeling.


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The marks you can still see are more like shadows of what was there, little reminders as the skin heals. I do still have some patches of dry skin which I keep an eye on and even with skin this clear, I cannot let my guard down. It has been nice to not have to use quite as much sticky ointments and cream as usual though.

Thank you to the nurses at Broomfield Hospital for their care and advice. It has been a difficult seven weeks and I could never have done it without the support of my family, friends, my work colleagues and the nurses. Thank you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been following my posts lately you may see that the light therapy I have been undergoing has improved my skin dramatically and I have now finished the course with practically clear skin. There does come a point where for the tiny patches of psoriasis that are left to be cleared, you risk burning your now healthy skin. The last week was getting a bit sore so we agreed to stop and really if you looked at me now you wouldn’t think I had psoriasis. So I should be happy yes? I am, I think, well mostly I am. Psoriasis has been part of my life for so long and will continue to be for the rest of my life so even with clear skin I cannot stop thinking about it, I just don’t have to think about it quite so much.

As soon as you become clear, especially after 4 courses of light treatment, I know this is only temporary and already thoughts of “when, not “if”, it will come back. I do have to remind myself that I should at least be happy for now and relax a little. So I’m relaxed and then comes another issue. It’s the summer, it’s hot and I’m planning to go to the local beer festival. So as I get ready I get out jeans, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and baseball cap. I’m still covering up. Why do I need to cover up so much when I’m clear, why not show off my new healthy skin. Even with it out of sight, psoriasis is there nagging away in my head.

So I have got out the sunscreen to put on my arms, that’s fine I can cope with that. I will wear a baseball cap anyway as I can’t be bothered to do my hair and it’s actually could sun sense to wear a hat in this heat. Onto the legs. Hmmm, this is difficult. I have one pair of shorts, they’re old, scruffy and I wouldn’t wear them in public. In fact I’m not sure I would wear any shorts in public now. It has been over ten years since I last wore shorts in public in the UK. I will admit there’s a little bit of fear creeping in and I may be trying to find reasons for not showing my legs in public, I mean they’re a bit pasty and skinny, not a pretty sight. Yes I know this is a shock but I’m no David Beckham. So as it stands today I’m ok, I have no decent shorts so I can’t wear any anyway.

Did anyone notice I specified the UK before. On holiday I wear shorts, on holiday I don’t care, I’m not at home, I don’t know anyone. Here in the UK, in my hometown I become a lot more aware of my surroundings and my anxiety increases. I probably should see someone about that. I do laugh at myself sometimes though, thinking I’m worrying over nothing. The problem is that even though I know I’m worrying over nothing, it doesn’t stop me from having a slight attack of panic or anxiety.

So, my Dear Psoriasis, it’s nice to see you leave. You really don’t have to call, email or send me postcards to remind me you’re still around. I don’t think I could ever forget you.

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