Living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches. It is a common, long-term disease with no cure and tends to go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while or going into remission and flares up again when triggered.
I first felt one of the symptoms of psoriasis in December 2016. My baby was five months old then and she was on pure breastfeeding that is why everybody was telling me that what I was experiencing is just normal. My mother applied coconut oil on my scalp every night for a week then we shifted to a mixture of coconut oil and lemon or calamansi juice for another week, but my dandruff did not disappear. It became more itchy and the scales became thicker. A co-worker gave me fresh aloe vera saying that can remove dandruff. I used it for a week but it seemed useless. Another co-worker applied hot oil treatment and olive oil on my scalp and advised me to go to a salon for another hot oil treatment, which I did but still to no avail. I even tried applying apple cider vinegar on my scalp at night and drank a teaspoonful in the morning. I’ve tried a lot of home remedies and anti-dandruff shampoos, but my dandruff was still as itchy as ever.
When my baby was seven months, I switched to mixed feeding. I was hoping that since my baby was no longer solely dependent on my breastmilk, I would regain the nutrients that I needed for a healthy scalp. But as days went by, I realized that what I was experiencing is not a simple dandruff because scales appeared on my forehead and at my back. I consulted a doctor who told me that I am suffering from seborrheic dermatitis. She said that there is no cure for such condition but I can try alternatives like herbal medicines and anti-dandruff shampoos until I find what suits me. But after trying different alternatives, my condition did not improve.
After two months, my knees and heels were aching so I went for another check-up and the doctor recommended for me to undergo laboratory tests, but the results were all normal. The doctor referred me to a dermatologist and to an orthopedic surgeon. I sought help first from an orthopedic surgeon who told me that I have gout arthritis and prescribed me some medicines but the pain remained even after I consumed all the medicines. I consulted a dermatologist who told me that I have psoriasis vulgaris with psoriatic arthritis.
Having this disease is very challenging since it affects my health and emotionally, economically, and socially. I keep on praying to God and thanking Him for the countless blessings that I and my family received but sometimes I tend to question why I am experiencing such suffering. I wonder how I acquired this disease because I live a simple life and I have no vice. The dermatologist said that there is no cure for psoriasis so I have to endure a lifelong medication. As of now, I apply ointments to cover up the scales and to ease the itchiness on my skin but my psoriatic arthritis is a bigger problem. I have to take high dosage of pain killers so that I can walk and sleep at night. Ointments and painkillers are relatively expensive so I have to allot a budget for it.
I have experienced discrimination because of my skin problem. Even after telling people that psoriasis is not contagious, some are hesitant to share a room with me during seminars and keep their distance.
As of now, I am trying to live normally with my condition. I’m still thankful to God because I know that other people are suffering from more difficult conditions. — Belin A. Carbonel