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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

'Here's how I've learned to live well, and normally, with psoriasis'

Helen Hanrahan shares her top five tips.

Helen Hanrahan
Helen Hanrahan, a.k.a the Flakey Fashionista, was diagnosed with psoriasis over 20 years ago. Now in her 30s and living well with the condition, she shares her top five tips for living with psoriasis. 

1. Don’t give up hope, it is possible to live a perfectly normal life despite it 

After years of unsuccessfully trying to manage this disease myself through dietary changes, health supplements, natural remedies and topical ointments, I realised that finding the right dermatologist is the key to finding the right treatment.

There have been extraordinary advances in psoriasis research in recent years and clear skin is now an attainable goal. It is important to visit your GP or dermatologist regularly and ask about what new therapies are available. There will be one to suit you and when you find it, it will be life changing. Don’t give up! If you don’t feel comfortable with your current doctor, change to someone else.

Psoriasis is a lifelong disease, so it is important to be comfortable and happy with the person who is helping to take care of your skin.

2. People aren’t staring at your skin as much as you think

Remember when you were a teenager and you thought that the only thing people could see was that huge spot on your chin? The truth is they were more than likely too busy thinking about themselves to notice. Psoriasis is the same … we worry that it’s the first and only thing that people see when they meet us. This is quite simply not true – ask your friends.

Over the years I found the people most likely to notice my psoriasis were fellow sufferers.

3. Clothes matter

Despite the above, psoriasis can erode self-confidence very quickly because it is a visible disease. Clever wardrobe choices can minimise this, by camouflaging your disease and in turn boosting your self-esteem. Small tricks like avoiding dark colours on your upper half; using great accessories such as costume jewellery, scarves and bright bags to distract the eye; and using fabrics such as cotton or cashmere which are gentle on skin will all help.

This matters more than you would imagine. With more than a third of psoriasis sufferers diagnosed with depression, it is important to find ways that lift and cheer us every day. (And who can deny the cheering effect of a new pair of boots?!)

4. Be Kind to Yourself

It seems to the buzzword of the current times: self-care. But if you are suffering from a disease that covers your body, and is sore, itchy and painful, not to mention unsightly, then the words ‘self-care’ become more than just an indulgent Instagram phrase.

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Emulsifying lotion has been my best friend! Lather it on your skin each morning before showering as it will create a protective layer that will minimise flaking throughout the day. Moisturising is vital so invest in a gorgeous scented body lotion that will boost your mood.

Try and include some exercise in your daily routine. Not only will it release the endorphins, it is also important as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Severe psoriasis can lead to other health issues such as cardiovascular disease and Crohn’s, so it is important to look after your entire body, not just your skin.

5. Talk to Others

More than 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis and 110,000 of these live in Ireland. You are not alone. There are lots of people that you can talk to, who understand exactly what you are going through and who will be happy to chat with you and give you the benefit of their experiences.

There are many online communities and it is as simple as searching the hashtag ‘psoriasis’ to find where these are. It really does help to talk, and it can be really interesting to listen to how others have fared with different medications or indeed with different doctors.

If you would like to have an informal chat with a dermatologist or indeed with a fellow patient or psoriasis, then please join us on Saturday 13 October in the Dundrum Town Centre (ground floor, opposite House of Fraser) for the Psoriasis Shout Out.

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Helen Hanrahan

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