Brett, who works in cyber security and a dad-to-be, described life with psoriasis in the early years as isolated and lonely. “It's the personal and social side of my life that was mostly affected,” he recalls, “I missed almost all of the things a regular teenager experiences, I never developed those long term friendships that I see others have with people from their school days or even early in their working lives.” In his earlier years, Brett went through a bout of depression and anxiety, as he could not see an end in sight to this disease.
Not knowing what he had or what he could do to change the situation was extremely frustrating. “I wasn’t lucky enough to occasionally experience a period of ‘clearing up’ as the seasons changed as some people do,” he says. The plaque started appearing behind his knees and on his elbows then all over his back, head, and nails. His frustration escalated to anger when general practitioners would repeatedly tell him that there will be no sign of relief of his symptoms and that it was just about “making the itch and pain as bearable as possible,” he says, shaking his head.
It took Brett over a year to find a doctor that gave him an accurate diagnosis. Prior to that, he was met with general practitioners who could not offer solutions that effectively manage his disease. His persistent research and subsequent visits to multiple doctors led him to try various potions, lotions, and dietary changes, all giving him temporary relief. One method involved him scraping off the plaques until it revealed a raw layer of skin and then applying steroid creams and wrapping the body parts in Gladwrap before bed. He even invested in a sunbed to allow himself more frequent UV treatments and tried acupuncture.
By chance, Brett was introduced to a dermatologist through a mutual friend, “My brother’s girlfriend at the time was working with someone who had psoriasis and was getting treated by this dermatologist,” says Brett. Soon after, the dermatologist spoke to him about how to manage his psoriasis disease.
His advice to those who are starting their journey with psoriasis is to never give up and do not take ‘no’ for an answer. “Ask the hard questions,” he chimes.
Brett is expecting his first son in November. “I’m looking forward to playing sports with him outside and enjoy the outdoors,” he says with a smile, “and with clear skin, I can do that now.”
Psoriasis, a medical condition that occurs when skin cells grow too quickly, affects over 1.6 million Australians1. It ranges in severity from a few scattered red, scaly plaques to involvement of almost the entire body surface. It may progressively worsen with age, or wax and wane in its severity2.
- Lebwohl M (2003) Psoriasis. Lancet 361:1197–204
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