Sometimes hearing from other people who are going through the same thing you are can help you stay positive. This section brings you stories about patients who know what it's like to live with psoriasis. You’ll also find stories from people who have psoriatic arthritis, which is a related condition that commonly includes skin symptoms and joint pain. Read on and learn from their struggles, strategies, and successes.
Showing skin with psoriasis
Gina had been trying to cover the plaques on her scalp for as long as she can remember. As she got older, the plaques slowly began to cover her arms and legs. By her teenage years, she was always wearing long sleeves and pants, even in the middle of summer. Gina’s psoriasis also made her give up swimming, something she loved since she was little. Life at home was also difficult. “Even after I told my family that my condition wasn’t contagious, they would put long sheets on chairs because they thought my psoriasis would ruin their furniture,” Gina says.
As an adult, Gina became more and more frustrated with her worsening symptoms. She looked for help from a dermatologist who had her try several types of treatments without success. Finally they found one that worked for her. After about a month, a coworker ran up to her and said, “Gina! Look at your forehead! It’s clearer!” She went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror and saw that her plaques were not nearly as noticeable.
Now, Gina is swimming again and feels comfortable letting her skin show. “The first time I was able to go to the ballpark wearing a tank top was incredible,” she said. “The only time I wore tank tops before was in my house or going to bed.”
Confidence with psoriasis
Robert’s plaque psoriasis began on his chest, then spread to his elbows, down his legs, and across his back. It never affected his work or his hobbies, but his plaques were uncomfortable and itchy. They also made him nervous to wear shorts or go swimming. “People would think it was contagious,” Robert says. He tried some topicals, but plaques still covered much of his body.
After talking about his options with his dermatologist, he changed his treatment. Robert says his plaques have improved and now cover much less of his body. “I go out a lot more now because I’m not embarrassed.” Robert even joined his wife on a company trip to the Bahamas, where he spent lots of time on the beach with her and her coworkers.
Even with psoriatic arthritis, mom can play again
“High school is difficult enough without having flaky plaques on half your face,” Dawn says. Dawn’s skin symptoms appeared when she was around 11 years old. Much later, as a mother of three, she began to notice swelling and soreness in her ankles and wrists. “I would get stuck sitting on the floor if I was watching a movie with the kids,” she says.
Dawn was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at age 36 and she tried many different treatments before her and her doctor found the one that worked for her. Dawn’s skin is now much clearer. “I used to avoid doing things that could be painful,” she says. “But now, I don’t.” In fact, she joined a fitness class that she goes to three times each week. She says she does have joint pain and stiffness once in a while after exercising, but she is back to being active with her children, something she had worried was a thing of the past.
Back in action, with psoriatic arthritis
Bob was a firefighter for six years, before he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. When he started having trouble passing his physical tests, he began wondering if his condition would force him to change his career. “I was coming to terms with the fact that the condition was winning,” he said. Even though only a small amount of his body had plaques, his lesions cracked and bled. He also had terrible pain in his hands, shoulders, hips, feet, and knees. "When you can’t hold your newborn grandkids, it’s a horrible feeling.”
After finding a treatment that worked for him, Bob felt a significant improvement in his symptoms. His fingers, which used to look like sausages, have gone back to normal. He’s even able to continue fighting fires. He no longer has to rely on other firefighters to carry his equipment. He’s also able to hold other important cargo: his grandchildren. “Now I can hold them, play ball with them, and hug them without pain.”