By Máire Morris
This article has come about after someone asked me about my make up routine on Instagram and I innocently posted a little story on my personal Instagram account of the make up I use- which is very little- except for my insane love of red and pink lipstick I really could do without anything else. But, skincare I do take seriously for obvious reasons.
During this story I briefly mentioned that I don’t wear foundation as I have psoriasis and I got a bizarre amount of comments ranging from- You look beautiful regardless, you have great skin (Thank you friends & Fam) to ‘ I don’t believe that you don’t use ANY foundation, you are obviously using filters’ and my personal favourite which was ‘ You could do with some foundation, you don’t even look like you live in Dubai’ – Is being tanned a pre-requisite for living in Dubai? Also, I WORK- I am not lounging on the beach all day.
I mean what kind of people would think I would firstly, lie about a skin disorder that I have had for almost 30 years when they can only see my face online, and secondly why are you following me?
But it did start me thinking about what it has really been like to live with a skin disorder all these years and how it has affected my life in various ways.
I got psoriasis really young- 12 ish maybe, school was fun, as at that time it was predominately covering my forehead and scalp but I was pretty tough then so I don’t think it genuinely did much damage to myself-esteem which is still fairly strong and intact despite this article. My amazing parents took me to every doctor, specialist and herbalist in the country that they could find to help me, I have been on extremely restrictive diets and 25 herbal tablets a day ( as in carrying around the Monday- Friday pill box so that I didn’t forget to take them) at 16, I have been using steroid creams on a monthly and even currently on a weekly basis to control it, which brings it’s own issues with thinning skin, I have little or no immune system which means I am constantly sick no matter how much I take care of myself and rest and so on and any slight amount of pain in my body flares it up, as does heaters I the winter, as does AC in the summer, and I won’t even start on the effect that stress of any kind has on it, and how instant the effects are of that, and it impacts everything from what fabrics you can tolerate wearing to training yourself not to scratch it, even though you want to pull your entire epidermis right off!
I have lost count of how many times strangers have come up to me and asked me if ‘I’ was contagious, I was followed and asked to stop touching clothes in a store in Madrid as ‘other patrons are getting uncomfortable’ (I have a vest top on and they could see my arms were destroyed, which is why I was in Madrid to get some SUNSHINE to help it) . To be fair I had a fairly thick skin by this stage, no pun intended, as all that came into my head after the initial mortification was the scene from Pretty woman where she says ‘ Big Mistake, HUGE’ as we all know how I like to shop!
On the extremely rare occasion I drink a beer, the following day I am destroyed so I don’t drink beer as the yeast in it is detrimental, I have pretty much given up all alcohol entirely at this stage, I gave up cigarettes, can’t really use swimming pools as the chlorine drives it crazy also, have given up loads of various foods that don’t help matters and I have tried every form of cure that there is out there, driving to hospitals at 7am 4 times a week before work to get UV treatments, trying new medications, trying Paleo diets, you name it, I’ve tried it. Did any of that work- no- but it can’t hurt I reckon. I was also lucky enough to add another skin disorder called Urticaria to the list about 10 years ago which after numerous testing and so that now contributes on a regular basis too as does the beginnings of arthritis which runs in the family so pain is a constant factor that creates severe outbursts also.
Dating life through the years has been super fun too as you are unsure at what point to bring it up and see the reaction, or trying to time dates to when you have done 2 days of steroid treatments and your skin has calmed down and you feel good.
Ultimately nothing out there works for this on anything but a short term basis and I strongly suspect there is a cure but the medical powers that be make more money from the ongoing treatments than from any cure they could release, but for sure there are things that can make it a bit more tolerable and these are the things that bring me some relief- fresh air on my skin, sunshine and sea water are excellent but it needs to be consistent and the right guy really doesn’t care and will coat your back with sticky ointments under your VERY specific instructions on how thin/think the layer should be when things are bad and will wash his hands and come back and tell you, you are a medical marvel and should be studied in a lab as he teases you good naturedly ,and then cuddles up to watch a movie with you with strategically placed legs until the ointment soaks in.
I guess in the end, it’s all about how you look at these things in your life- be it psoriasis, acne, rosacea or any other type of skin disorder out there, we know they are not life-threatening- we know there are good times and bad times with it, and usually we find ways to manage or dress to allow for these times, but ultimately it’s about others having a little compassion. If you are genuinely interested to ask what has caused a reaction- absolutely go ahead and ask me as I know when it is coming from a genuine place, and I am more than happy to discuss but please don’t recoil in public or be a rude keyboard warrior. I know I put it out there, and that was my choice, and I’m totally fine with people asking about it or wanting to know more but please be kind, you really don’t know what anyone has gone through to even get to the place where they are brave enough to mention something like this on social media, however briefly.