Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Psoriasis Diagnosis

I guess that I should start at the beginning, to show that I do have some history with psoriasis.

When I was about 35 years old there were some upsets in our lives that created much mental stress for my wife and me. We all deal with stress, each in our own way. Some people shout and scream and let the world know that they are in pain, possibly venting much stress in the process. I almost always have an outward appearance of being totally calm and unflustered but nobody sees what is going on inside. It might be that internalising issues builds up inner stress that shows elsewhere.

The result soon after was that I burst out in strange spots all over my body and I started to shed flakes of skin all over the place. My scalp started to itch, became tight and grew a tight-fitting cap of something that I could not identify but which felt awfully uncomfortable.

Eventually I made an appointment to be examined by a local dermatologist, who was also a professor at University of Cape Town. He told me that I had psoriasis, a word that I have never heard before. He had to spell it to me so that I could research it for myself.

He immediately put me onto strong cortisone creams and lotions. I asked him how psoriasis was affected by diet and he told me that diet has no effect on the condition. Almost his next breath he told me that alcohol affects psoriasis badly, so I should go easy on drinking. I have never been much of a drinker anyway but told him that alcohol is part of diet so I would not accept that diet has no effect without proving it for myself.

I proceeded to watch my diet very carefully and its effect on my skin. I had weekly visits to the dermatologist and a few months later he declared me clear of psoriasis. He told me that he did not know what had cleared my symptoms but he could not believe that it was my diet. He said that I did not need to come back to him unless I felt the need to.

I walked out of his office and never did return. I did not want someone with such a closed mind advising me on how to take care of my own skin. After consultation with my personal doctor, an open-minded lady, I made an appointment with a much younger lady dermatologist who was also more open to alternatives. She soon told me that I knew my skin and how to control it much better than she did, so she served more to guide me if needed and to do occasional inspections for possible skin cancer. We are now 8000 miles apart but I still go to her for a checkup when I am in South Africa.

That is the basis that I have worked on for the past 25+ years. I took control over my own condition. I am the one who has to live with the consequences. I don't want to be part of the system that rushes patients in and out of the consulting room, leaving with hastily scribbled pieces of paper prescribing drugs that may clear my psoriasis but have a possibility of some very serious side-effects. Since I left that first dermatologist I have never used any medication that requires a doctor's prescription. Everything that I use is over-the-counter and relatively cheap.

In future blog entries I will explain what I did and what the results were. In the meantime, stay calm and keep clear.

Dudley Dix