A woman has shared photos online to show the realities of living with the dermatological disease plaque psoriasis.
There are several different types of psoriasis which typically causes areas of skin to be dry, red and covered in silver scales.
The most common is plaque psoriasis which according to the NHS accounts for 80 to 90% of cases.
29-year-old Jennifer Haugh from Galway, Ireland, has a particularly bad case of the hereditary immune disease which covers 60 per cent of her body including her legs, arms, back, stomach, scalp and face.
Although Jennifer got diagnosed with the condition two years ago, before then she had a different form of the disease, guttate, which had been triggered by a throat infection.
As she exclusively explained to UNILAD, although this was treated it returned in the form of plaque psoriasis:
For me this was more difficult to treat and much more painful. The consultant dermatologist in Galway hospital said it was the worst they had seen.
I had to regularly cover my skin with paraffin gel, which caused huge amounts of skin to come off in the form of large flakes.
I would often wake up with my bedding covered in blood as I had been scratching in my sleep and it was prone to infection – it eventually did get infected, the sores began to weep and I had to wear bandages and take antibiotics.
Jennifer’s symptoms worsened to the point she had to take five months off work, barely being able to move due the pain.
At this point she also developed depression while the condition also started to affect her relationship as her boyfriend was unable to touch her.
Given an emergency appointment at the dermatology clinic, Jennifer was given treatment which eventually started having an effect.
I was prescribed cyclosporin, a strong immunosuppressant used to treat auto-immune disorders. I was eventually weaned off them however as they can cause liver and kidney problems.
I was then switched to another immunosuppressant in the form of an injection called Humira (adalimumab) which seemed to have little effect. I was taken off Humira and am currently on another injection called Stelara (ustekinumab) which I have been taking for about four months and has cleared most symptoms.
However it has affected me by causing tiredness, nausea and tremors to name a few.
Despite the side effects, Jennifer is happy with the progress which has been made and so decided to share some comparison photos on Reddit.
At time of writing, Jennifer’s Reddit post has received over 55,000 upvotes with people congratulating her in the comments.
Jennifer told UNILAD she is delighted at the reception it received as she believes more people need to be educated about plaque psoriasis.
I know people mean well but I had a lot of messages telling me about homeopathy, miracle cures and simply changing my diet – and while some of these things may work for some people, medication was the only solution for me personally.
People seem to underestimate how much psoriasis can impact someone’s life and how much suffering it can cause. It is also important to note that psoriasis is not contagious as some people seem to think that it is.
I hope the post may help others suffering with the same condition – when I was at my worst I wasn’t sure I would ever have normal skin again.
If more people like Jennifer share their stories of living with plaque psoriasis, it will help spread awareness.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.