I have psoriasis. It’s not so bad right now, but sometimes, especially in the winter, I get patches of dry skin all over my arms, legs, wrists, and ankles. Even my face. And not just dry skin, but layers of it. Psoriasis can cause the skin to mature ten times faster than normal. The skin cells then pile up and often look like red and white tree bark.
There are five forms of psoriasis. Erythrodermic causes redness and swelling over large areas of the bodies. Pustular causes red skin and white pus blisters. Inverse causes smooth redness in the armpits, groin, and other skin folds. Guttate appears as small red dots all over the body. Plaque, the most common type of psoriasis and the one I have, causes red skin covered by white layers of skin cells that look like scales.
Doctors aren’t certain what causes it, but psoriasis often runs in families. A few years ago I went to the doctor for a routine check-up. “That’s a nasty scrape you have on your knee,” she said.
“It’s psoriasis,” I told her.
“You’ve been diagnosed?”
She was a gynecologist, so I wasn’t surprised she didn’t recognize psoriasis. “My sister has it, too,” I said. “She’s been diagnosed.”
I was putting Vaseline on it back then. Almost immediately, my skin sucked the Vaseline up and it was dry again. Sometimes my patches of psoriasis would crack and bleed. The Vaseline helped keep it from hurting, but did nothing to heal it. I even tried Neosporin. The cracks in my skin healed faster, but the itchy layers of skin stayed.
The psoriasis got worse. It hurt and bled, and the Vaseline wasn’t helping anymore, so I went to the doctor. “I have psoriasis,” I said.
She looked at my elbows. “You sure do,” she said, then handed me a tube of Diprolene AF. Diprolene is a steroid cream, a common treatment for psoriasis. Steroids reduce the swelling and redness and my doctor told me it also thins the skin. She told me to put it on my psoriasis at night, then put plastic wrap around it where I could, such as on my elbows and knees. I did what she told me except for the part with the plastic wrap, which is probably why it took weeks for my skin to start getting better.
After a while, my psoriasis worsened again and the Diprolene wasn’t working. My doctor gave me some samples of Dovonex, a form a vitamin D3 which slows the rate of skin cell growth and helps remove the scaling. The psoriasis healed quickly after that. I noticed a difference in only two days, but if I missed a single dose, the patches of psoriasis came back twice as bad as they had been before I tried the Dovonex. I switched back to the Diprolene and eventually my skin returned to almost normal.
I have psoriasis. It’s not so bad right now. I only use the Diprolene when I need it and I haven’t needed it for a while.