I first started getting psoriasis in middle school, but I didn't know it yet. I had a flaky scalp and always assumed it was some kind of dandruff. It wasn't until college, when a girlfriend started noticing small round spots on my back, that I finally went to a dermatologist. This was the first time I had even heard the word “psoriasis.” It scared me a lot at first because when you describe something as having “no cure” it feels like a death sentence. My first doctor didn't really explain the disease to me and just gave me something to put on the existing spots. I was still in the dark.
It started out as little patches, red, no scales, but eventually they got thicker and thicker and in more and more places. I played basketball daily in college so I felt more and more embarrassed about the spots on my legs. Eventually the itching was what made me go see a psoriasis doctor again. I was having problems sleeping and paying attention in school during the day because of lack of sleep and itchiness. I finally went to a dermatologist who understood it was embarrassing to have and that psoriasis really affected everyday living. She treated the problem with multiple medicines and strategies including antihistamines to help with the itching.
The problem basically just got stable and less annoying, but it never really went away. I was okay in most situations because my clothes covered most of the psoriasis. Eventually I started wearing long socks and quit going swimming to avoid any long stares and having to explain psoriasis. Most of my closer friends knew and understood what it was so I'm grateful that they were around.
I eventually started working and with proper health insurance I started looking for better treatments. Over the years my psoriasis just gradually got worse and worse. I basically had it all over my body. So I finally found a doctor with more advanced treatment options. This is when I first heard about biologics. I was told all the risks and I decided it would be better to give one a try. I remember it cleared up my psoriasis completely and I was young and free again. I was so happy and distinctly remember going to the river to float down the river that spring, something I would have probably avoided.
Sadly, I decided to go to law school, which meant losing my employer-provided insurance. After using the biologic for only about a year, I didn't know what life after it would be like. Additionally law school was a high stress environment. I immediately flared up and it was back to hiding my skin as usual. I struggled with student health insurance. I only used topical solutions and it would simply slow the spread. Eventually my dermatologist at school found a clinical study. I joined and found that the study was using the same biologic I had been on previously. So recently I've been using it again, but with mixed results. While I'm miles better, the psoriasis has never really disappeared. I'm still glad it's at least better, but am wary that even these non-topical solutions are having less effect over time.