My Psoriasis, Eczema and OAS Story

My Psoriasis, Eczema and OAS Story (hayleyjoeann.com)

I’ve had sensitive skin and skin conditions my entire life so here is my Psoriasis, Eczema and OAS Story

I have a constant voice in the back of my mind saying “am I going to have a reaction to this?” which leaves me anxious about trying new things. Part of the reason I went down the beauty route with my blog was because it’s been difficult over the years to know what would work for my skin and what wouldn’t. It’s all trial and error with sensitive skin and skin conditions so I thought, why not document the products use. Skincare and make up are my favourite conversational topics after all. Nothing makes me more happy than getting a message from readers who tell me they discovered a product I’ve talked about works for them. I always say, if what I write can help atleast one person than I am happy. I just want people to know who suffer with skin conditions and who feel isolated with it, that it doesn’t have to be that way. Before I started being as active on social media as I am now, I’d never met anyone with the same skin conditions as me. Little did I know there’s a community of people wondering around the internet.

I wanted to write a bit about my skin and health because I often tweet about having Psorasis but there’s only so much you can fit into a 140 character box. My skin conditions aren’t something I talk about in detail online but figured why not write one post about it. I’m not in this boat alone and there might be someone reading this who can relate. There’s so much I could say and so many stories I could tell but I will keep it simple and skip over some graphic detail.

Allergies/Hayfever/Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food syndrome and is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables or some tree nuts. The immune system recognises the pollen and similar proteins in the food and directs an allergic response to it. People affected by oral allergy syndrome can usually eat the same fruits or vegetables in cooked form because the proteins are distorted during the heating process, so that the immune system no longer recognises the food.

I am mostly allergic to foods that are linked with birch pollen such as almonds, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum etc. But also grass pollen such as melons, oranges, peaches, tomato etc. For me it’s very trial and error. I spent my entire childhood being allergic to apples and now I can eat them red ones without an issue. I like to think my allergies can be unpredictable, especially so when I wake up in the night with really strong allergic reactions for absolutely no reason.

I have allergies to things such like dust mites, (some) pets, pollen etc as well irritants such as soaps, food, detergents etc. I can tell if my bedding has been washed in anything other than non-bio powder within 5 minutes of being in it and I know a room needs a dust before it even looks dusty. It could be classed as a super power, who knows.

The most important factor of how I manage my OAS is by taking antihistamines and drinking full fat coke when my throat is itching and swelling. I’m not truly sure what it is about the coke but it helps, that’s for sure. The itching of the throat and ears can be unbearable and the swelling throat can sometimes panic me. I do my best to keep calm and know that if I do all the right things, it’ll pass. I do my best to keep on top of cleaning and use products I know work for me. There’s nothing wrong with using the same shower gel for years and years if you know it’s good.

Eczema

I had the skin condition Eczema growing up and it was really tough for me. I’d wear soft gloves to bed to avoid scratching in my sleep. Eczema would appear on my eye lids and it would be so red raw, that it would look like I’d been punched. I’d be forever bathing in baths filled to the brim of ointments and lotions and slathering creams on my body. I will never forget spending my Mums 40th birthday in hospital because I’d scratched my Eczema so much that it was like looking at open wounds.

For those who don’t know, Eczema is a condition where patches of skin become red, inflamed, cracked, dry and itchy. It is likely related to conditions that affect the skin’s barrier function (genetic factors, nutrient deficient, bacterial infection or dry/irritated skin). Eczema can also be triggered by environmental factors, certain foods, allergens, stress and even hormones. You’ll start to see how all my medical “issues” link by the end of this post.

I remember being at school with bandages around the creases of my arms to avoid my clothes touching my skin because my Eczema was so irritable. I remember how embarrassed I felt. Sitting down cross legged was next to impossible because of the Eczema on the backs of my legs and behind my knees. I always knew there were people out there with far worse cases than me but that doesn’t necessarily make my dealings with it any better. What child wants to be wearing bandages and struggling to wear items from their wardrobe because of Eczema?

I have to say, in comparison to when I was younger, my Eczema is far are better and more under control. It happens in phases now, mainly stress related or if I’ve tried a new product my skin doesn’t agree with. Unfortunately I didn’t “grow out of it” like the Doctors said I would. My Eczema had faded almost entirely when I hit my 20s, but that’s when I developed Psoriasis.

Psoriasis

After a year of seeing many Doctors at many different surgeries, I was finally diagnosed with Psoriasis. Psoriasis is a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterised by patches of abnormal skin. These skin patches are typically red, itchy, and scaly and normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. But they can actually appear anywhere on your body. Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK and it can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. The severity of Psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some people it’s just a minor irritation, but for others it can have a major impact on their quality of life.

The fact that every Doctor before I was diagnosed had no idea what was happening to my skin, shocked me. I went so long with no help or information on what I was suffering with. My ears would bleed, my scalp would bleed and my skin would be so sore I couldn’t wear certain clothing. It was a horrible thing to go through with no information and I’d forgotten the lengths I used to go to to find comfort. Long cold baths and plasters over each patch are just two examples. There are many times of Psoriasis but for me, it began with Guttate Psoriasis. This can be triggered by tonsillitis which is something I had every 6-12 weeks in University for over a year. Which apparently isn’t often enough to get my tonsils removed, who’d have thought? Even though I am well and truly past the phase of constant tonsillitis, I still suffer with Psoriasis.

I had 32 patches it all over my body, yes, I counted. That’s not counting the patches under my hair – that was next to impossible to do. After a long time of different creams, lotions, changing my diet and crying, (yes, I cried a lot over the pain/irritation/the knock it gave to my confidence) I was offered UV Light Therapy which cleared the 32 patches right up. Unfortunately, the UV light couldn’t get through my hair, so I still have Psoriasis on my scalp and behind my ears. It’s still something I struggle with on a daily bases but I’m grateful that’s all I’ve got to deal with now.

Psoriasis killed my confidence entirely. At University I felt like I couldn’t wear anything that showed my legs because of how sore they looked. Swimming wasn’t an option because I refused to wear a bikini and lets not even go down the road of confidence with guys. My brain replayed the message “who wants to date someone with flaky skin?”.  After University my confidence level grew slightly, only to be knocked down again by a (now ex) friend who made fun of my skin condition.
After UV light therapy I started to feel so good about myself. I started to dress how I wanted to and my confidence grew. It’s not all about the superficial side of it, it’s about the way it made me feel inside and outside. A skin condition can really knock your confidence and the way you see yourself. I’m now at the stage of my skin condition where I am fairly accepting about it. I accept I have it and I accept that some people may think it’s disgusting. But those people aren’t the people I will associate myself with. I was lucky enough to be rid of the patches on my body but I am now tackling my ears and scalp Psoriasis daily. Sometimes having an itchy, flakey scalp can really get me down but I always remind myself about how much worse I’ve had it and how much worse others have it. Some cases of Psoriasis break my heart.
I recently had a patch appear on my arm (first time in 3 years) and I felt flooded with panic of how it used to make me feel and what I went through mentally and physically. Thankfully I got the patch under control, this time.

So that is my story.

Everything is linked someway and most of the time, one issue doesn’t come without the next. If you’re at the end of this blog post then I applaud you. I can imagine most of you read this all because you suffer with something similar and what I am saying resonates with you in some way. Either way, thank you for reading about my experience and I guess, my life as it is now. I wish looking back on the years I suffered badly with skin conditions that I had more support from Doctors but with the wonders of the internet, I am finding more out than ever about my skin conditions and handling them is becoming easier. Slowly but surely.
 Photo by @mattstravelblog
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