Coping With Psoriasis
- Social media star Rosie Daniels, 23, shared that her body was once covered in red, scaly patches from psoriasis. After learning to manage her symptoms and going through the “hardest time,” her skin is now clear.
- The journey affected her mental health, but she says she now feels stronger. She said it was The “best thing” to happen to her.
- Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy patches to develop on the skin. It’s more likely to impact your lower back, elbows, knees, legs, face, palms, soles of your feet, and the scalp.
- Topical treatments are widely used to manage psoriasis-related symptoms, while injections and phototherapy are also options.
- Some coping mechanisms to help psoriasis patients manage their mental health involve breathing exercises, relaxing their muscles, and turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy patches to develop on the skin. Daniels described her journey dealing with the condition as "the hardest time I ever experienced," in an Instagram post.
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Daniels became popular as one-half of the "Rosie and Harry" TikTok channel. She and her co-host post comedy videos that's gained millions of followers.
However, Daniels' real-life battle with psoriasis last year took its toll. In video posts, she showcased her body covered in red, scaly patches.
"The girl on the left of these photos is so damaged, so broken yet trying to push through every day. She looks ill in the face, pale, thin, and unhealthy mentally, and in so many ways physically unhealthy," Daniels wrote in a post.
Daniels drew attention to the emotional toll psoriasis had on her. She admitted it "affected her mental health."
@itsrosieandharry Be ready for 4th june!!ðŸ¤ðŸ«§ðŸ«¶ðŸ¼ðŸŒ·commenr your guessesâ€¦ðŸ‘€so excited! #rosieandharry #viral #foryou â™¬ original sound – ðŸ¤
"As much as I tried every day to spread positivity, I hid a hell of a lot away behind the cameras. I will never have the words to express how hard it was to wake up and be happy as a young 22-year-old girl should be," she added.
The TikTok star credited her support group comprised of her fellow social media co-star, her family, and her mentor. She says they helped her remain as positive as possible while battling the condition.
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Since figuring out how to manage her symptoms, Daniels has seen improvement. In a follow-up post she said she's "fully healed from the skin condition" and considers herself the "happiest and healthiest" she's been.
She memorialized the end of a two-year psoriasis battle by saying, "I am finally clear from psoriasis.”
When thinking back on what she learned from her journey, she wrote, “I strongly believe that the universe … gives every single human certain challenges in life on purpose. It's a test to how strong we are as individuals to get through things that are the hardest. It happens on purpose because it teaches us things we wouldn't know if we didn't go through these times.”
"If I express any message to you if you're suffering with something similar it's to not give up. I'm the real living proof that it will get better. There is a light at the end of that dark tunnel, I promise you," Daniels said.
"Psoriasis is a chronic, auto-immune skin condition where you have red, scaly patches on the skin," Dr. Saakshi Khattri, a dermatologist/rheumatologist at Mount Sinai Health System, tells SurvivorNet.
"It is a chronic condition, which can ebb and flow. You can have good days and bad days," Dr. Khattri added.
Psoriasis does not have a cure. However, symptoms associated with the skin condition can be managed with treatments and lifestyle changes, as Rosie Daniels showed.
Though she now has no visible patches, she said, "I will always have psoriasis and it might flare up again at random points in my life.”
Psoriasis is a rare condition that is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Researchers believe genetics, as well as environmental factors, play a role in people diagnosed with the condition.
Types of Psoriasis and Symptoms
Under the psoriasis umbrella, various subtypes of the skin condition exist:
- Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. It causes dry, raised skin patches that may be covered in scales.
- Nail psoriasis affects fingernails and toenails.
- Guttate psoriasis mostly impacts young adults and children. It is often caused by a bacterial infection.
- Inverse psoriasis mostly impacts skin folds such as areas around the buttocks, breasts, and groin.
- Pustular psoriasis causes pus-filled blisters in widespread patches across the body.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis can cover the body with a red, peeling rash that may itch or burn.
- Psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain and swelling.
WATCH: What is psoriasis?
People diagnosed with psoriasis may experience symptoms that include:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Small scaling spots
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch
- Itching, burning, or soreness
- Thickened or ridged nails
- Swollen or stiff joints
Psoriasis is more likely to impact your lower back, elbows, knees, legs, face, palms, soles of your feet, and the scalp on your head.
WATCH: Psoriasis can present in different forms.
How to Manage Psoriasis Symptoms
Throughout Rosie Daniels' psoriasis journey, she said she was able to clear up her skin in a matter of months. While she did not say what worked for her, here’s what we know about the treatment options for psoriasis.
Topical treatments are widely used to manage psoriasis-related symptoms. SurvivorNet lists some of the main topical treatments, which vary depending on the symptoms in need of treatment.
- Corticosteroids treat mild to moderate psoriasis. These drugs are good options for flare-ups and come in the form of ointments, creams, lotions, gels, foams, sprays, and shampoos. Corticosteroids vary in potency.
- Vitamin D analogues help slow skin growth. Calcipotriene and calcitriol are two commonly used synthetic vitamin D analogues.
- Retinoids help relieve psoriasis symptoms, particularly on the palms and soles, and nails. It comes in the form of a gel or cream.
- Calcineurin inhibitors help reduce inflammation and plaque buildup. It's most useful on thin skin such as around the eyes.
- Salicylic acid comes in the form of a shampoo that treats psoriasis symptoms on the scalp.
- Coal tar reduces scaling, itching, and inflammation and comes in the form of shampoos, creams, and oils.
Systemic treatment is a form of psoriasis treatment that travels through your body rather than being targeted to one area of the skin. Examples of systemic treatments include methotrexate, apremilast (Otezla), or cyclosporine.
"I have patients who come in after having been to many other medical practices and not really getting much hope or really good treatments for their psoriasis," Dr. George Han, a dermatologist at Northwell Health/Lenox Hill Hospital, explains to SurvivorNet.
"We'll give the patient a systemic medicine that these days are very effective. We have treatments where over half of the patients who have moderate to severe psoriasis are getting 100% clear," Dr. Han continued.
Biologic drugs, or biologics, which are given by injection or intravenous (IV) infusion (a slow drip of medicine into your vein), are another treatment option. These drugs target only specific parts of the immune system, while other systemic drugs target the whole system.
Phototherapy is a psoriasis treatment that exposes patients to a narrow band of ultraviolet (UVB) light. This treatment option is used when topical medications alone do not work. It can also be used alongside other psoriasis treatments.
"It's a limited spectrum of the sunlight, which we use. Patients generally have to come to a place that does phototherapy. There's a phototherapy box. You go there. It's generally three times a week in the very beginning until your psoriasis is in control. And beyond that we can space it apart to once a week or twice a week as maintenance," Dr. Khattri says.
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How to Cope With Psoriasis
Psoriasis can take a toll on your mental health, as Rosie Daniels experienced. Remember, it is completely normal to feel self-conscious about your skin condition. Fortunately, there are things you can do to boost how you feel about yourself while you work to overcome psoriasis.
"If you have psoriasis on your skin, and if it's affecting your quality of life, it's important to advocate for yourself," Dr. Khattri says.
Dr. Khattri urges psoriasis patients to ask their doctor for resources to help them not only manage symptoms but also their mental health.
The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA) offers recommendations for people battling the skin condition and struggling emotionally.
Breathing exercises to help control your breathing can help reduce anxiety.
PAPAA says, "If (rapid and irregular) breathing pattern continues it can make us feel more anxious and out of breath, which sends a signal to our brain." The rapid breathing heightens your stress response so slower controlled breathing tamps down your stress response.
Learning to relax the muscles in your face, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, and legs can also help. Relaxation reduces the "worry and panic" you may feel in certain situations related to your psoriasis condition.
Expert Psoriasis Resources
Lastly, PAPAA recommends managing negative thoughts related to your condition.
"Negative ways of thinking are unhelpful and only lead to low mood and anxiety," PAPPA says.
Instead of allowing harmful thoughts to take hold of you, try distracting yourself with positive thoughts and ask yourself the following questions.
- What is the evidence that this thought is true?
- Am I predicting the future negatively?
- Are there alternative interpretations that are more realistic?
- Am I making things worse than they really are?
- Does this thought help me to succeed?
- Does it matter if things don't turn out exactly right?
- Am I trying to read other people's minds?
Questions for Your Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor to help understand your condition:
- What type of psoriasis do I have?
- What treatment option do you think will be most effective for my psoriasis?
- Are there any side effects associated with my treatment?
- Who should I contact if I find myself in need of emotional support?