One of my patients once told me that he used so many psoriasis medications that taking care of his skin had become a hobby (his words). He had to dedicate so much time every morning and evening to applying medication, taking care to cover furniture, and cleaning up any messes that this was how he spent a lot of his spare time. No doubt, psoriasis is a "high-maintenance" disease.
While currently there are much less "messy" treatments available, such as injectable biologics, the fact remains that psoriasis patients have a lot to deal with on a day-to-day basis:
- Medications: cost, mess, bother, side effects
- Emotional burden: depression, anxiety, self-esteem
- Symptoms: itch, discomfort, flakes on clothing, etc.
Surely, this list can go on and on. The point, however, is to arm yourself with the tools needed to overcome the burdens associated with psoriasis and minimize its negative impact on your life. I find every psoriasis patient eventually finds (sometimes through trial and error) a treatment that works and fits their overall needs, be they cost-related or what have you. If your psoriasis is controlling your life instead of the other way around, it's definitely time for a trip to the dermatologist.
If taking care of your skin has become too burdensome, it may be time to transition to a systemic medication -- one that treats the whole body, such as a pill or injection, instead of just one area. Some injectables are taken as infrequently as every two weeks. (That would certainly free up a lot of time.) If cost is an issue, ask you dermatologist about assistance programs currently being offered by pharmaceutical companies. It is not unlikely that one of the makers of the newer medications will be willing to provide the drug for free to a patient without insurance who meets certain financial criteria. If the emotional aspects of the disease become too great, look for support either with a local support group or online. Can't find a local support group? Your dermatologist may be able to suggest one.
Psoriasis, although seldom life-threatening, is often life-altering. Arming yourself with information, resources and a positive attitude are a few of the initial steps for living with psoriasis.