I suspect that it was my second tattoo that triggered my psoriasis. I already had a few red spots around my waist, which I thought were insect bites. But after I got that tattoo, my skin flared up. The red spots started to spread all over my body. I didn’t know what was wrong. I honestly thought that I was going to die.
That was six years ago, when I came back from South Korea during my semester break. The first thing that I did after I landed in Malaysia was to go to a dermatologist. That was the first time I heard about psoriasis. I was actually relieved when I found out that it wasn’t life threatening.
Over 75% of my body was covered with plaques. The itch was unbearable. Sometimes, I would scratch myself until my skin bleed. I would keep scratching it, until it became too painful to bear. Waking up to a bloody blanket and bed sheet was not fun at all.
I used to be stuck in my bed for a few days at a time. My joints would hurt so much, especially at my ankles.
Luckily, it was just joint pains and did not cause any deformation. Back then I was very unhealthy. I was overweight, I was 125kg and that made matters worse.
I was seeing an immunologist and that really helped. But I knew I had to do something more to improve my overall health. I started to cycle and joined a triathlon class. I quit smoking and drinking as well. I also switched my diet. That was a real game changer for me.
I know a lot of doctors and dermatologists that say food doesn't affect psoriasis, but that’s not true. People who have psoriasis naturally have a higher level of uric acid. I saw a tremendous amount of improvement (in my skin), when I stopped eating foods that are high in uric acid such as beans, tofu, and anchovies. I also stopped eating red meat and seafood. I love crabs, but every time I have some, I end up looking like “The Thing” from “Fantastic 4”.
It was really challenging for me to make those changes in the beginning, but I had no choice. I had to do it for the sake of my health. I lost about 30kg and it made all the difference in the world.
I would say that my skin is pretty much back to ‘normal’ right now. Whenever I’m really stressed out or when I accidentally eat the wrong food, my skin would flare up again. But it doesn’t get as bad as it used to be. I would just get a few red spots here and there.
It has definitely been a rollercoaster journey. I honestly wouldn’t have survived all these if it wasn’t for the support of my family and friends. I don’t really care about anyone else, especially people who don’t know me. I don’t let their comments or behaviour affect me.
I was told off once by a lady who said I shouldn’t swim in the pool anymore. My friend who was training with me was ready to tell her off, but I held him back. I didn’t feel bad. I understood where she was coming from. If I didn’t know anything about psoriasis, I might have done the exact same thing.
That’s why we need to create more awareness and educate the public about psoriasis, as it is affecting more and more people in Malaysia and around the world. We also need to find a way to help people who are living with psoriasis, to cope with the challenges that come with having this skin condition. We need to teach them how to face life head on and how to be proud of their skin.”