Everyone reacts differently to a car crash, but for Joanne* (40), an accident in 2000 caused the onset of severe psoriasis. She has shared her inspiring story with QV to show others living with the condition that they are not alone.
Joanne, who is a mother of one and works as a private nanny, said that her psoriasis began after a car accident, but she didn’t see the link initially and doctors misdiagnosed her with ringworm and then eczema.
After four years of uncertainty, Joanne experienced an agonising flare-up after she gave birth to her first child by C-section. She said: “I had a very bad flare up after the birth of my daughterand from the maternity unit, I was referred to the dermatology department of my local hospital, where I was finally given the diagnosis and told that I have psoriasis, which had likely been caused by the car crash all those years before.”
Joanne’s psoriasis symptoms would often leave her with large flare-ups all over her body and could last for as long as a few months, leaving Joanne both physically and emotionally drained
She added: “The most severe flare-up I’ve ever experienced lasted for months and when it’s at its worst, it can take over my life. Physically it’s really draining because you have to think about ways to cover up and hide the red patches. People can be cruel too - a few years ago, in Next, two ladies whispered ‘ewww’ at my legs because I was wearing shorts - I was so embarrassed.”
Joanne is amongst the 30% of psoriasis sufferers who have received hurtful comments** and one of the 80% who feel embarrassed and experience low self esteem** as a result of their skin condition.
Joanne said: “When I have had a bad flare-up, every day can become a battle. I’d make sure that I was getting changed in a separate room to my partner and would hoover up the skin that had shed. It really affected my relationships and sex life and it’s the main reason I chose not to have another baby, as I felt disgusting and ashamed in front of my partner.”
She added: “There have been days where I’ve just wanted to stay in bed and forget about my condition. I’ve even missed out on doing things with my daughter such as going swimming. Before finding a treatment that worked, the only thing that would bring me some relief was going on holiday.”
Like many of the other 1.8 million people who suffer from psoriasis, Joanne’s skin condition has affected many aspects of her everyday life.
But she didn’t give up. She tried everything, including cutting out wheat and dairy from her diet, UV light therapy and cold tar treatment where the product is left on the skin overnight and covered in bandages.
Joanne has eventually found a way to keep serious flare-ups at bay, with a combination of injection treatment and emollient therapy, She said: “If I didn’t keep up the emollient therapy and have my injections of Secukinumab, which I have two of every four weeks, and left my psoriasis untreated, it would attack my body and I’d say around 90% of my body would become covered in it.
“Thankfully I have now found a way keep my condition completely clear, although every now and then stress can trigger a flare-up.”
As well as being able to find ways to treat the physical side of her psoriasis, Joanne has also found a way of managing the emotional side by attending Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). She added: “My skin condition was making me shut out my family and friends. I was embarrassed and felt like this was something that was just my problem.
“CBT has really changed my life. It’s made me realise that once you let psoriasis dominate your life it can take hold of you, it’s really important to not let the skin condition take control. Psoriasis can be managed, don’t let it dictate your life, like I let it do to me for so long.”
To find out more about psoriasis you can visit www.psoriasis-association.org.uk. If we all work together we can all be A Hand to Hold to someone struggling with a skin condition.
Join us on social media @qvskincare_uk*
Our case study has asked to remain anonymous so her name has been changed
** QV Confidence survey