Louis had a psoriatic rash when he was 18 for about 2 months. The steroid creams and emollients helped soothe his skin, which was very itchy and sore. Everyday activities were affected and it was difficult not having any answers about what was happening.
Louis had a psoriatic rash when he was aged 18 for about 2 months. The rash started to develop after Louis had the flu. It began on his elbows and spread up his arms, chest, neck and face. Louis psoriasis was extremely itchy and sore, but it did not include skin flaking. He described it as a burning itchy with red and blotchy blisters. Louis remembers it being particularly itchy on the top of his back, neck and scalp. He tried various steroid creams and emollients, alongside taking painkillers and antihistamines, and the psoriatic rash cleared over the course of about 6 weeks. Louis hasn’t had any other signs of psoriasis since and he hopes it won’t return in the future.
It was at the point when the rash had moved onto his face that Louis visited his GP. He was given a steroid cream as the GP thought that it might be eczema; the cream soothed his skin but little more, so Louis returned to the GP. He was given a large tub of emollient (moisturiser) and a stronger steroid cream. Louis was referred to a dermatologist and was told that it was probably a psoriatic rash. Louis had heard of psoriasis before, as he is a medical student, and having a diagnosis made it easier to answer other people’s questions about his skin. However, it was also scary for Louis to hear that the doctors didn’t really know why the psoriasis had developed or how long it might last. The dermatologist prescribed the steroid cream Betnovate and a shower gel replacement, since soap aggravated Louis skin further. Louis also took shop-bought painkillers and antihistamines to help with the pain and inflammation of his skin. The accumulated cost of these prescriptions was a concern for Louis and he appreciated it when his doctor gave him bulk quantities of the creams, as he was getting through them very quickly.
Psoriasis and the treatments impacted on everyday aspects of Louis life. For example, his sleep was disrupted by the itchiness, requiring him to get up often in night to reapply creams and take painkillers. This led to Louis feeling very rundown and tired. Attending lectures was also a struggle, as he’d have to sit on his hands to stop himself from scratching. He would often take his emollient and steroid creams to reapply in the toilet cubicles or go home to take a cold shower. Louis says that it was a balance between trying to avoid things which might aggravate his skin whilst still functioning with some normality. For instance, he wasn’t able to play rugby anymore and instead started going swimming. At first, he’d worried about the chlorine in the pool water but this didn’t cause a problem and he found it a good hobby for taking his mind off the psoriatic rash. Louis creams built up a greasy layer on his clothes and bed sheets which meant he had to do more laundry. He used to wear a select few t-shirts and jumpers which were already coated in emollient, as these were less likely to rub than fresh clothes. Louis adds that someone with a skin condition shouldn’t feel that they have to wear jumpers or scarves to hide psoriasis and that covering up can make you feel more self-conscious.
The appearance and accompanying pain of the psoriatic rash were difficult to live with. For example, shaving was painful because his face was very sensitive and Louis found that using a blunt razor with lots of shaving foam worked best. The painfulness of his skin was the main concern. It was difficult to wake up already in pain and know that this would only worsen as the day went on. The discomfort and ways this restricted his day-to-day life meant that Louis sometimes became irritable. His housemates were very understanding though, helping him apply creams to his back and keeping the house windows open so his skin stayed cool.
Louis didn’t do much research online about his symptoms, as he quickly realised that trying to self-diagnose would be very difficult. Instead, he trusted his GP and dermatologist. He feels that doctors should also be aware that patients with skin conditions may have concerns such as how to function normally and cope with embarrassment. He says that it’s important to recognise a person within the skin condition rather than to treat them as just a problem that needs fixing. Louis advice to someone having a similar experience as his own is to get used to the fact that the psoriatic rash is not going to go away quickly and try to carry on as normally as possible.