For those of us blessed with "normal" skin, it can be easy to take an itch-free, pain-free day for granted. For those suffering with psoriasis, a day like that is a blessing from the skin gods. For Chorin Parsons, days like that were few and far between, for the longest time. Psoriasis usually develops in people between the ages of 18 and 34, but can strike at any age. Chorin was unfortunate enough to start experience symptoms around age 6.
“I remember having Psoriasis when I was younger, I’d say around 6 years old… At around 17 years old, I had another skin complaint that was being dealt with. I was on strong medicine for this and the psoriasis just seemed to re-appear with a vengeance and has been part of me ever since.”
Psoriasis can manifest anywhere on the body, but mainly appears on the arms, legs, back, chest and scalp. It’s easy to hide beneath clothing but, when the face is concerned, it isn’t so easy. It’s even worse on the scalp, which can sustain serious damage and even hair loss due to constant irritation.
“(it manifests most prominently) on my legs and scalp, but more recently my face – I now religiously use Bioderm on my face!”
As previously mentioned, the most prominent symptom of psoriasis is scaly and incredibly itchy skin, often leading to skin being rubbed raw through the constant desire to itch and scratch, although that, of course, never makes it better. When asked about which symptoms Chorin experiences most often, she replied:
“Itching, and in return, soreness from the itching. A never-ending cycle, for sure.”
Never-ending, indeed. As the itchiness magnifies and becomes pain, more and more everyday activities become difficult or outright impossible. Chorin said:
“Wearing what you want can be tricky. Well, I could, but for me personally, I don’t feel comfortable. I refrain from certain activities too, such as swimming.”
Imagine, no summers in the pool, no swimming parties with friends as a child. All because of a horrible, unending itch. Growing up, body image is a hard topic for many, many people, male and female alike. It can be a further embarrassing element to have to deal with psoriasis as well.
“I’m not so sure some of my family and, certainly, my friends know the extent of my psoriasis. I’ve learnt to live with it, just adapting everyday life and situations.”
This is an issue nobody should have to deal with. Fortunately, skincare is always evolving and new methods of treating this disease are being developed all the time. Hopefully, this becomes a thing of the past, sooner, rather than later.
Society is the lens through which we view our entire lives. It binds us all together and defines much of our outlook on the world. When something falls foul of its judgement, of OUR collective judgement, that can be a very difficult thing, as Chorin discovers:
“I am self-conscious about my skin, especially when flaky, red and dry. Isn’t it funny how our minds work, and what we think society would see as more (or less) acceptable?”
This self-consciousness can drive us to ever more extreme methods of treatment.
“It’s been over 15 years working with the NHS dermatologist. I’m finally trying biologics and hoping that they help me. I’ve had a range of treatment from steroid creams, to UVB light and treatments such as methotrexate and cyclosporin. Many treatments are time-sensitive or have side effects too. I read recently about eating a tub or two of blueberries a day… I’m yet to try that!”
Chorin does her best to make light of her situation, but the reality is rather more serious. It is hard for those who suffer with the condition to fully make peace with what they look like. In an ever more image-focused world, that’s a terrible thing to endure. When asked if she’d made peace with her skin, Chorin replied:
“At times since I’ve been diagnosed, but not wholly.”
Especially as a young girl, having to look in the mirror and not liking what you see is heart-breaking. We can’t wait for a world where every child can look in the mirror and love the person looking back at them. For any children reading, out there, or any parents, Chorin had these tips to give:
1. “Always be honest with your professionals. Don’t try to be ‘strong.’ Tell them about the days where you’re anything but that and how your skin really affects the way you feel, look and dress.
2. Tell your besties! 1, So that you feel at ease around them. 2, They’ll also be the people to talk to when you are feeling down about your skin. 3, I’m sure they’ll help build you up! (With or without psoriasis!)
3. Learning to love the skin you’re in starts with yourself, but others can absolutely help you!”
At Salcura, we’re eternally inspired by Chorin’s optimism and positivity. Be who you are, better yourself where you can and love yourself when you can’t!
To all the other sufferers of psoriasis reading, who may be feeling disheartened, depressed or feeling some degree of self-hatred for this condition over which you have no control, Chorin gives this uplifting, heartening message:
“Although you may feel it, you are not alone. I think many of us suffer in silence, many of us adapt and ‘cope’ but, hopefully, with more of us telling our stories, sharing our skin (in time) and spreading awareness - psoriasis will become a little more ‘normal’”
We can’t thank Chorin enough for sharing her story with us, and for her bravery, courage and defiance in the face of this illness. For anyone who’s feeling down, you are not alone. If you ever want to discuss your condition, your sin or your feelings on psoriasis, Chorin is happy to talk @chorinlouise. We are too!