Live Life to the Fullest – Psoriasis Should Not Be an Excuse to Be Inactive

1. When and how did you come to know that you are suffering from psoriasis?

7 years ago, when I was 27 years old, I first noticed dry skin peeling on my scalp, which I initially thought was dandruff and around the same time I experienced left knee pain and brushed it off as sports injury. I ignored the symptoms for a couple of weeks until rain drop-like spots developed all over my body. This triggered me to get checked at a regular GP clinic where I was prescribed steroid creams. The doctors couldn’t really explain the condition to me. The creams didn’t help for long and a few weeks later, I went to a private clinic. The doctor there explained me that the condition I was suffering from is known as psoriasis and that there is no cure for this disease. I was again prescribed steroid creams and oral therapy that only worked for about a month and after that psoriasis flared up again.
Later, I was referred to a rheumatologist at the government hospital to treat the knees, who in turn, referred me to the dermatologist in the same hospital. It was in the government hospital where I felt very comfortable, thanks to the doctors who meticulously explained the disease to me and I finally understood the condition better. Prior to this, I didn’t know how to spell or even pronounce ‘psoriasis’.

2. What was the initial reaction of your family?

I love hiking, so and when I first developed psoriasis, my parents and relatives thought that I was cursed by spirits from the hiking trips. They recommended me to go to temple to seek alternative treatments like traditional Chinese medicines. This was also around the same time when I first visited GP clinic, where I was prescribed with topical creams, but I did not see any improvement.

3. What impact did psoriasis have on your lifestyle?

I had always been an outdoorsy guy, enjoying hiking, fishing and running. However, these activities cause a lot of sweating, so, I usually refrain from these activities during flare ups. However, I still try to maintain an active lifestyle and believe that Psoriasis should not be an excuse to be inactive. I see that most psoriasis patients stay at home and rarely step out of the house, which leads to a sedentary life, which causes other complications like diabetes and hypertension. Hence, I encourage other psoriasis patients to adopt a healthy lifestyle and find time for some physical activities a couple of times in a week. My advice to other patients is that you will never know when psoriasis would flare up so, live life to the fullest and do anything you want when there aren’t any flare-ups.

4. How did psoriasis affect your job choice?

I work at a call centre which I believe it is as a blessing in disguise as I work during the night shifts. Many people may not enjoy working at night, but for me, it is a preferred choice. One perk of working at night is that it enables me to go for check-ups at the hospital in the morning. On top of that, the cooler air and the lack of sunlight at night is much better for my skin condition, because sweat, humidity and sunlight may cause psoriasis to flare up, which can sting and can be very painful.

5. How often does the disease flare?

When I was on topical medication, the disease flare used to happen very often, sometimes every two to three months. However, when I was on biologics, the disease was more stable with infrequent flares. With regular medication and follow up, it is possible to control the disease. I have always trusted the doctors at the hospital and urge other psoriasis patients to do the same. It is vital for psoriasis patients to not miss their check-ups and visit their doctor regularly as it will help patients manage their condition better. I have never missed any follow-up sessions in the government hospital, even though the queues are long, and the wait could go up to an hour plus. My doctor has always been supportive, he is like my guardian angel – even when my condition was at its worst, the hospital made me feel comfortable, I don’t feel shy. The doctors, the nurses, the support staff at the hospital all of them made me feel comfortable. However, I’ve seen some patients miss their check-up all the time and when they finally turn up at their doctor’s clinic their condition would have worsened, and treatment that they were on previously may not have the same impact anymore.

6. Have you ever experienced clear skin?

My wish is to have clear skin and I know it is possible. I have experienced clear skin, when the government hospital had access to biologic treatment. I genuinely hope that government increases the budget allocation for psoriasis treatments, so that more patients have access to better care. When it comes to public awareness I feel there have been awareness campaigns in the recent years, however that is not enough, there are still a lot of people who do not understand the condition properly.