It can be difficult to know how and when to speak to your GP about your psoriasis. There are often a lot of things to talk about in a short consultation – just 7 minutes on average.
These 7 easy tips will help you prepare for your appointment, and hopefully give you more confidence when speaking to your GP, so you can get the treatment and support that’s right for you.
I’ve used my experience as a writer living with psoriasis to help develop
Psoriasis: Think Twice, in partnership with leading healthcare experts and LEO Pharma.
When you have a condition like psoriasis, regular contact with a GP or healthcare professional is so important. However, a survey for Psoriasis: Think Twice found that over a third of people who are living with psoriasis haven’t visited their GP for over 5 years to talk about their condition. It also found that about half of people surveyed had been on a repeat prescription. Does this sound like you?
I hope this website will give you some great ideas to help you take control of your psoriasis.
After being diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of seven, I spent a long time in hospital as the doctors tried to get things under control. In a short space of time it had taken over my body – from head to toe. I had no idea what was happening to me. No one explained anything to me.
It was equally scary for my parents. At the time, they didn’t know what to do or how to help me.
While in hospital, I was given moisturisers and creams to try, along with bandages to wrap around my skin to help it absorb the creams. After being discharged from hospital, I continued this routine for a number of months. It was a lengthy and uncomfortable process and being bandaged meant I couldn’t move about much or do any of the things my friends liked to do.
I later returned for my first review with a dermatologist. As things were not improving, he decided I should have phototherapy treatment. The only place to offer this was a hospital further away. I had to go a few times a week, so I missed out on things at school and hanging out with my friends. While I was adapting to living with psoriasis, the treatments were ineffective. This was tough to deal with. It felt like things were never going to get better, so we began to look at other options.
After a lot of perseverance, eventually, my psoriasis showed signs of clearing up and things started to improve. My reviews were further apart and I began a cycle of repeat prescriptions, to the point that I eventually stopped having appointments. This was a big mistake.
After a couple of years of repeat prescriptions, I began to notice some different marks appearing on my body. Something wasn’t right – I soon discovered why. I had been applying treatment ALL over my body, not just on my psoriasis, when I shouldn't have been! My dermatologist had never shown me how to properly apply the creams or explain not to use them in skin creases, such as underarms. How was I to know?
I was left with such low self-esteem and I began to feel miserable. It was the first time my psoriasis had ever got to me in this way and I really didn’t know what to do. A few days later, I returned to hospital and my cream was immediately stopped and I was sent for further phototherapy treatment. This time it appeared to work well, but because they didn’t do a skin test I received a much bigger dose, leaving me burnt from head to toe and unable to walk. I was in so much pain that I could no longer attend university and I got behind with my studies. My tutors couldn’t understand how something as simple as ‘a skin condition’ was having such a big impact and eventually I had to drop out.
I’d pretty much given up everything – including all hope of ever sorting myself out – until a family friend suggested I visit another dermatologist. Tests revealed I’d overdosed on my treatment, I was allergic to the moisturiser I’d been using for eight years and the dosage of light therapy I’d received was almost three times what my skin could tolerate. I’d had enough by now, but I knew it was time for me to start taking back control.
My new dermatologist opened my eyes to a range of treatment options and put me back in the driving seat. There was already another treatment option lined up if one failed, which was very reassuring and gave me a more positive outlook. I had come full circle.
By working together, my dermatologist promised we could work towards me being as psoriasis clear as possible. Recognising how much this had taken over my life, he referred me to a nurse to discuss how my psoriasis had impacted me as ‘Jessica’, rather than ‘Jessica the psoriasis patient’.
From that day on, the care I’ve had has been brilliant. My psoriasis is now under control the majority of the time. Persistence was key to finding a doctor who understood my psoriasis and truly helped me.
The advice I would give to everyone out there is not to let things continue if your psoriasis isn’t improving. Don’t get locked into the cycle of repeat prescriptions for the length of time I did. See your doctor regularly – even if things are okay.
Rena Ramani is an inspirational young woman from north London who has battled to come to terms with her psoriasis since her early teens. In this moving film Rena shares her journey to understand her own condition and teach others about the impact that psoriasis can have. She hears the touching stories of other people living with psoriasis and has the chance to talk to the healthcare community directly – even challenging one GP to spend some time in her shoes and see psoriasis from a patient's perspective. As Rena’s journey draws to an end we watch as this brave young woman is left to face one of her greatest fears.
Exposed was funded by a grant from LEO Pharma and was directed by James Routh, a critically acclaimed filmmaker. James has made documentaries and drama documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Five and the Discovery Channel.
Exposed has been critically acclaimed and won several UK and international awards.