Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Hate My Skin!

Fair warning right now, if you are grossed out by things easily, then you should just stop reading right now. Because I'm pissy about my skin, and I'm going to put pictures of how yucky it looks in this post. Yes, there is also blood. So you should absolutely not go further into this post if that kinda thing will bother you.

First of all, if you don't know what psoriasis is, go Google it. Unless you don't care. In that case, why are you even here? So now I'm going to tell you some of what I have experienced with psoriasis in the last two decades (give or take) that I've had it.

There is no cure. There are only treatments, and the same ones don't work for everybody in the same way. That means that treatment is very hit or miss no matter how good your doctor is. It itches. It hurts. It looks awful. I mean, if your legs looked like this, how would you feel?

That's actually an older picture, and it covers even more of my legs right now. I cannot describe how much it itches. Words are not adequate. It itches so much that in the past, I've taken a fork or knife to my skin in an attempt to ease it SOMEHOW. That works for about 10 minutes... then it itches EVEN MORE because now your skin is also bloody and broken even worse than it was, and has to heal.

I've had chicken pox, hives, poison ivy, and assorted other skin issues, and in my experience, none of those even comes close to the itching I experience. You know when you get sunburnt, and then your skin gets all peely and such? And you peel off too much and it isn't ready to come off and it's all raw and hurty? Yeah, that's still mild compared to what I feel. Here's an old picture of my arm.

Every bit of the skin that is reddened itches like hell. And that's from when it was milder, it's worse than that now. It makes me feel like a freak, or leper. I hate it when people assume they know what happened, and ask me about where I found the poison ivy, or just stare at my skin.

Worse yet is the horrified looks from other people, the widened eyes and gasping practically screams, "WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT PERSON?! COULD IT HAPPEN TO ME?!" Or, maybe, the comments, when people make snide remarks or say cruel things, not TO ME, but usually so that I can hear them. Like I don't know how I look, like I don't look down at my arm every day and see this:

Cashiers will often go out of their way to avoid putting money in my hand. People on public transport will get up and move away from me. Some folks will pull their children to the other side of themselves as if I'm going to reach out and infect them with this nasty disease. I guess I could go around yelling, "PSORIASIS IS NOT CONTAGIOUS!!" as people head for the hills, but I doubt it will assuage their fears.

Almost as bad are the people who, well-meaning as they may be, try to tell me how to heal/cure/get rid of psoriasis. If I would just eat this magical food, take this magical supplement, rub on this magical ointment... I'd be all better! No, just no. Believe me, I have tried pretty much every natural remedy or cure out there, and quite a few of the prescribed ones. I've spent the last year or so on medications to bring down my cholesterol (which went high from psoriasis medications) so that we could try yet another medication. If this one doesn't work, then we've got a couple more in mind, but the side effects from those are even MORE severe than the one I've just started.

By the way, the one I've just started is Acitretin AKA Soriatane. Let's take a peek at some of the lovely information available about it.

Seek emergency assistance is you have the following symptoms of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Serious side effects may include:
blurred vision, headache or pain behind your eyes, sometimes with vomiting;
sudden decrease in night vision;
depressed mood, aggression, unusual thoughts or behavior, thoughts of hurting yourself;
chest pain or heavy feeling, spreading to the arm or shoulder, sweating, shortness of breath;
sudden headache, confusion, problems with speech or balance, numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body);
sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, fast heart rate;
pain or swelling in one or both legs;
jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
loss of feeling in your hands or feet, trouble moving, pain in your back, joints, muscles, or bones.

Less serious side effects may include:
dry or irritated eyes, thinning eyebrows or lashes;
chapped or peeling skin, hair loss;
dry mouth, dry or runny nose, nosebleeds;
warmth, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin;
nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
mouth sores, swollen or bleeding gums;
headache;
sleep problems (insomnia); or
ringing in your ears.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.

This medication can cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant within 3 years after you stop taking acitretin. You must use 2 forms of birth control together starting at least 1 month before treatment with acitretin, and for at least 3 years after you stop taking this medication.

Do not donate blood while taking acitretin and for at least 3 years after you stop taking it. Donated blood may be given to a pregnant woman and could cause birth defects if the blood contains acitretin.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). acitretin can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. 

Must not drink alcohol during treatment and for at least 2 months after treatment ends. Alcohol can cause acitretin to convert to another substance in your body that can take 3 years or longer to clear from your body.

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to acitretin or similar medications such as Accutane, Altinac, Avita, Renova, Retin-A, and others. Do not use acitretin if you are pregnant, or if you have:
severe kidney disease;
severe liver disease;
high levels of triglycerides (lipids) in your blood;
if you are also using methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall); or
if you are also using a tetracycline antibiotic, including demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx, Oracea, Vibramycin), minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Solodyn, Vectrin), tetracycline (Brodspec, Panmycin, Sumycin, Tetracap), and others.

Hmmm, doesn't that look like fun? I think it's time to take some of the more serious drugs, and see if I can sleep.