One of the things that many people don’t realise about Type 1 Diabetes is that it is an autoimmune condition. The thing with autoimmune conditions is that if you have one, you are more likely to get another one – or even more. My mother has hypothyroidism and psoriasis, both of which are autoimmune. The chances of me suffering with either of those in the future? Pretty high!
My mum’s thyroid is treated with pills, and that keeps the impact on her life to a minimum. Her psoriasis though? That’s another story. She’s tried all sorts over the years, but now she is starting to #TakeTheChallenge and try out the BlueControl treatment.
Psoriasis affects about 2% of people in the UK. It comes in patches which are made up by an over production of skin cells. Every 3 to 4 weeks your skin cells are replaced, but in a person with plaque psoriasis this happens every 3 to 7 days. The skin builds up leaving flakey, itchy and sometimes even sore patches.
My mum has had psoriasis for as long as I can remember, but in reality it has been “only” 22 years. We had recently moved halfway across the world to start a new life in Trinidad and this was of course more than a little stressful for my mum. This stress is what has been labelled as the main trigger for her psoriasis.
These days her psoriasis is definitely on the mild end of the scale, but it hasn’t always been that way. She notices it coming and and going in cycles. The affected areas sometimes change, and at its worst she was affected on her underarms, hands, feet and even groin.
I asked her about the impact on her life, and this is what she had to say:
“As with all skin conditions, the main impact is embarrassment. A lot of plaques can be covered by up clothes, but sometimes they appear in more visible like arms, legs and even hands and feet. Over the years, I’ve deliberately worn long sleeve tops and trousers to cover plaques or avoided shaking hands with people I don’t know. I always feel like I don’t want to draw attention to areas where I’m affected.
Thankfully in the North East of Scotland where I live there isn’t much call for summery clothes or sandals most of the year, but on those rare hot summer days I will restrict my clothing and footwear to something that won’t highlight the plaques. I can’t go on holiday and lie on a sunbed without worrying that someone is looking at me, making jokes and mocking me behind my back. I constantly have to think about what I’m wearing to save myself from the embarrassment.
Aside from being self conscious, there is the pain. The plaques regularly crack and split, causing them to bleed. There is a risk of infection and so it is imperative to keep them clean. It can be all consuming at times”
In short – the emotional effects of psoriasis can be huge.
As for treatment? She has had an array over the last 2 decades! She was first given a green cream to treat that patches under her arms. Her hands and feet were treated with a Diprosalic ointment as they are particularly dry areas even without psoriasis.
As it got progressively worse she was given yellow soft paraffin with 5% salicyclic acid. She had to apply this at night, wrap her feet in cling film and then put on socks. As you can imagine this was highly attractive! It also was extremely greasy and she had a constant fear of slipping in the shower in the morning.
She was advised to super glue the cracks in her hands and feet closed when her psoriasis was at its worst, to reduce the risk of infection and help them heal. More recently she has been using Doublebase Gel and Haelan Tape to close the cracks. The tape is pretty amazing and seems to work like magic – but it is treating a symptom rather than helping prevent the psoriasis from getting worse.
I think it is always healthy to challenge your treatment if it’s not working for you, and so now my mum is giving the Phillips BlueControl treatment a try. The UV-free therapy device can be used at home or on the go. The blue LEDs are used to help suppress the activation of certain cells, which in turn helps to reduce the accelerated production of skin cells.
It is a small and lightweight device. Since it is cordless you can use it wherever and whenever you want. It comes in a case to store it in when it’s not in use, and has a simple charger.
The device itself slots into a soft holder so it remains comfortable while in use. You simply strap the BlueControl to the affected area and switch it on. When the session is complete the device switches itself of.
The BlueControl to easy to put on yourself. You slide it on to the affected area, such as your arm or elbow, and tighten it with the elastic strap and velcro fastener. It stays in place well and doesn’t appear to get in the way too much.
It’s pretty exciting to be trying out a different treatment option. I’m going to be encouraging my mum to #TakeTheChallenge and see where she is willing to go while treating her psoriasis. We’re all off on holiday together this month – do you think she’ll be up for doing it on her sunbed?
This post was written in collaboration with Phillips.