Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Flaked Truth

image courtesy of Bupa
I have psoriasis. It's not a total disaster. I mean, I can go on with my life and it causes me little physical pain. In fact, there is no reason that having psoriasis should hold anyone back from doing anything that they want to do. Except, of course, that it does.

Psoriasis is overwhelmingly common and is essentially caused by the immune system attacking healthy skin cells. The body thinks that even healthy skin is damaged and skin cells form at a faster rate, leading the layer that reaches the surface to be underdeveloped. The result is patches of raised, red skin covered in silvery, loose scales. All in all, not very attractive. 

Having psoriasis inevitably holds sufferers back. It's a vanity thing for a lot of people (me included) but can also involve complications like psoriatic arthritis and pustular psoriasis of the hands and feet, leading to limited mobility and even disability. For myself, it's more an annoyance that I can't wear certain clothes without people staring, and I rarely feel attractive when I have skin on show. Black clothes are a nightmare. If you think dandruff is bad, try sitting next to a flaky when you're wearing a black jumper. The worst physical pain for me is caused when clothing sticks to patches that I've scratched, breaking the already weak layer of skin. I'm forever peeling socks from my ankles. It also itches quite a lot. If you see me clawing at the insides of my arms, I assure you it's nothing to do with withdrawal and everything to do with my psychotic skin.

This skin condition has, however, given me some happiness in my life. My first foray into internet social networking was on a forum designed for sufferers. We would moan and laugh about our skin together and I made some very, very good friends. I rarely visit the site now but there are people I will always have in my life as a result.

It also gives me something of a quirk. Picking the scales is terrifyingly addictive and I have been known to let people have a go. They always go away satisfied. It's also something that I know a lot about and who doesn't love feeling like an expert? Knowing the answers to the questions of strangers is a fantastic feeling, and I'm always happy to talk about it - if only because I get sick of people assuming I have sunburn (I'm an SPF fanatic, for the record). Plus, psoriasis means I always have something that I can joke about. At my own expense, of course, but those are usually the best jokes as far as I'm concerned. After all, if I don't say it someone else is bound to!

But, best of all, if you think about it, it also means I'm a little bit like a superhero. My skin heals much faster than the average person's as the cells are forming at a rate of knots. Even on healthy skin I heal much, much faster than my mortal counterparts. Naturally, the healed wounds are usually bound by a thick layer of scales, but that's merely a protective shell against further injury, surely? 

That's right. I'm a flaky superhero. Be careful about disagreeing with me, I might just sneak into your house and fill your bed with dead scales. Trust me, I've slept like that for years and it's not pleasant. Imagine sleeping on a flapjack...

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