Saturday, February 20, 2010

Advice for anyone who suffers from Psoriasis

I have briefly mentioned in previous posts that I suffer from a reasonably mild version of Psoriasis which is a non-contagious skin condition in the same family as eczema (it really bugs me when people act like they’re going to catch it from you!). I wanted to write this post because it’s something that affects a lot of people but it’s not spoken about that much in the beauty blogging community. It affects people’s confidence and definitely affects what kind of cosmetics you can use so this is for anyone who struggles with the same condition.

For anyone who doesn’t know what this condition is, here’s a quick overview:

· Psoriasis is chronic (long-term), normally genetic and reoccurring
· It affects 2% of the population (which is actually a lot of people when you think about it)
· Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition which causes the body to attack white blood cells
which then results in the over-production of skin cells
· Sufferers experience red, sometimes scaly, well defined patches of dry skin
· Psoriasis can affect any part of the skin on your body
· Usually occurs on the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back

The condition also means you get exhausted very easily and also because your immune system is working overtime to regulate your body, it’s becomes weakened and you’re more susceptible to picking up illnesses like flu. I personally get small patches of reddened, raised, super dry skin that are really difficult to get rid of…yeah I know, it’s a royal pain in the ass! But there are people out there who have it a lot worse than I do and are covered in it. Luckily I am over the worst of it and have a relatively mild version now so I only have about 4 or 5 tiny patches on my whole body.

The funny thing is, I had never had a problem with my skin at all until the age of 21, when my dad got seriously ill and had to have major surgery. I really didn’t handle it too well, my family is my world and the thought of losing one of them just sent me reeling. I got panic attacks and generally got REALLY upset and stressed out, which resulted in me developing Psoriasis. It was really bad and I had big patches of it covering the front of my neck, on my face and all over my legs. It was a really upsetting and distressing time because people didn’t understand what it was and a lot of people would stare at me. The doctor confirmed that it was the stress that triggered the Psoriasis, although it’s a hereditary condition so it lies dormant in a lot of people.

I just wanted to do this post for anyone else who suffers from the same skin condition and wants to hear about products that have really helped me to treat it. There’s lots of websites out there that suggest different treatments (which generally involve ingredients like tar and smell disgusting!) but I haven’t seen any yet that advise on more cosmetic products that can help like face masks, gentle exfoliators and body oils that are available I shops, rather than online or mail order. Everyone is different and therefore, these products might not work for everyone who has the condition but it really is a case of trial and error. Finding the right products can really boost your confidence though and just makes it easier to live with.

First off are the usual bits of advice that really help to improve your skin which are drink lots of water, either take Aloe Vera tablets or drink Aloe Vera juice, get regular exercise and use non-biological washing powder for your clothes, towels and bed sheets. Things to avoid are alcohol (hmmm, easier said than done!), smoking, sunburn and adverse stress. Also, don’t use abrasive exfoliators on your skin, it will just make the Psoriasis worse.

If you want to know what products I use to keep my skin in check, read on (these will also work really well for generally dry skin too)…please excuse the google sourced photos, my camera has taken a funny turn today but will hopefully have it fixed soon!
Dove Soap – I ONLY ever use Dove soap, just the original kind. It’s so gentle and creamy on my skin and it’s the only soap I have found that doesn’t irritate my skin. Because it contains one quarter moisturising lotion, it helps keep your skin nice and soft.
Lancome Baume Eclat Balm to Oil Cleanser – I first saw this product on Alpha Blonde’s blog. This milk to oil cleanser is great for when you have just got in from a big night out and you’re too tired to go through your whole skincare routine. You apply it to dry skin, it starts out as a milky texture then as you rub it into your face, it emulsifies into a light cleansing oil that removes all your makeup, you then just wash it off. Easy! The great thing is that your skin is left moisturised by the oil so you don’t have to apply a moisturiser. When you have dry skin, you can’t afford not to moisturise before you go to bed at night, but this product does everything so you don’t have to faff around with lots of products. Genius!
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – I have used this now for a few years and I always like to have a bottle of it in my bathroom. It contains 100% natural ingredients that won’t aggravate your skin and Liz Earle actually began creating her products because she has Eczema and found it difficult to find gentle but effective products on the market. Whenever I start to notice that I’m getting dry skin on my face, this always get rid of it in the most gentle way possible. It keeps my skin clear, even and really soft.
Virgin Vie Seventh Heaven Nourishing Cleansing Balm – This cleanser contains Mango and Shea Butter but the main skin softening ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oil! It’s a thick paste with gentle exfoliating beads that you apply to your face and massage in for a couple of minutes, you then remove the product in circular motions with a damp muslin cloth (comes with the product). My skin always feels amazing after using this! I can really see the difference the day after, my skin just looks so radiant and healthy. I tend to alternate it with my Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish just so my skin doesn’t get clogged up by over-using the oil enriched Virgin Vie product. This is definitely my new favourite skincare product!

Rose Oil – Every so often (generally once a week) I give myself a facial massage with pure Rose Oil which you can buy from most big pharmacies. This gives the oil a chance to really penetrate the skin and when left on overnight, it really calms any redness. You can also add a couple of drops to your night time moisturiser to keep your skin super hydrated. I never use it on my face in the day time as I always wear foundation so that would just slide off my face if I applied oil underneath it.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair – I have been using this every night for the past month and I have really noticed a difference in my skin tone and any scars I had from blemishes. I’ve also noticed that it really helped to heal any redness I get from Psoriasis around my nose. The anti-oxidant formulation is so light and contains natural Hyaluronic Acid to keep skin hydrated so it’s really a must have for my skin. I have found that it lasts for ages too, even after a month of applying it every night, it’s only gone down a teeny tiny bit. It’s £36 for a 30 ml bottle, I have estimated from the amount I have already used that it will last me for around another 6 months so that works out at only £1.40 a week! I’m more than willing to spend that on improving and protecting my skin.
Estee Lauder Day Wear Plus Moisturiser – I love this stuff…simple as. I wouldn’t use it during the day as I find it’s too heavy to wear under makeup but it’s amazing as an intensive night time moisturiser. The anti-oxidant formula contains a lot of Aloe Vera which is brilliant for soothing and softening your skin. You only need a small amount which you rub between your fingers and then apply, I like to massage it in for a couple of minutes…I think this is the key. If you don’t massage it in properly then it will just kind of sit on your skin. I used to think that the more expensive skincare out there was a waste of money but I now think differently. My skincare regime is now a mix of lower and higher end products.
Bio Oil – A lot of people had asked me to share my thoughts on the Bio Oil I picked up in a haul a while ago. Well I have been using this every night recently and although it’s a pain to apply all over and sometimes I can’t be bothered, I just love the way it makes my skin SO smooth and soft. I even apply it to my face sometimes as a treatment and that works really well too…you just have to make sure not to apply it anywhere near your eyes or they will go puffy…also don’t apply it if you have a lot of blemishes as it may just aggravate them. You can also use Bio Oil for your scalp, by massaging it in, leaving it overnight and then washing your hair in the morning (it also adds a lot of shine!). The Bio Oil has really helped my Psoriasis too and it’s faded a lot in the last few days. I also like to use shower oils like L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil or the one that No.7 do. They’re a great way to moisturise your skin lightly without having an oily layer on your skin.
I really hope this post has helped anyone who suffers from the condition or at least helped people to understand what Psoriasis is. It’s not something that people like to talk about because it can be embarrassing to have to explain it to people (especially to a new beau in your life!). There has been a massive rise in products that only contain natural/organic ingredients and that really is a step in the right direction. I know that this condition can really knock your confidence and make you feel down about the way you look, especially when people make nasty comments or stare, but remember that you’re not alone and if you want to ask me anything, please do email me or comment below and I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

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