Dramatic Stories: I got teased for having psoriasis
Health Hub blog

Dramatic Stories: I got teased for having psoriasis

Kids in the playground used to call Jana “nit girl” when they saw scalp psoriasis flakes falling from her head.

Meet Jana, she’s been dealing with psoriasis from head-to-toe since she was eight. Kids in the playground used to call her “nit girl” when they saw scalp psoriasis flakes falling from her head (how mean). We’ve been soothing her itchy skin for some time now, and as she’s an active member in our Facebook group, we thought we’d share her experience with you.

Tell us a little more about you. Where do you live, what do you do for work, what do you love to do on weekends.

I’m an early childhood educator based in Sydney. I work in the 0-2 room and absolutely adore taking care of children, watching them grow up, witnessing their milestones and being able to provide a safe and love filled environment for them to grow up in. On weekends I love to go into the city, visit museums, watch musicals, have brunch with friends, cook and watch TikTok. 

Has your health journey moulded you into who you are today? 

Definitely. Especially after being teased, I’ve learnt how to be kinder to others and not judge them based on their skin.

Do you think having dramatic skin has made you a better person?

Psoriasis has taught me so much, especially to be nice to everyone as you have no idea what people are going through. I’ve definitely learnt how to be compassionate and more empathetic.

Tell us about your experience in being diagnosed with your skin and health conditions.

My first plaque popped up on my thigh when I was eight and I had no idea what it was. I went to two different doctors, before a children’s dermatologist officially diagnosed it as psoriasis. It’s been a real rollercoaster since then as I’ve have to find balance and comfort knowing there is no real cure for it. 

I tried SO many different tar based creams, shampoos and conditioners, as well wrapping my skin in glad wrap (which did NOT help, it made it worse!). When my psoriasis was at my worst my dermatologist suggested UV /UVB treatment at Westmead Hospital. It was an interesting experience! You sit in a bed with undies and thongs with a pillow case and wielding mask over your face. I started getting a great tan, my psoriasis faded, but then it came back ten times worth than before. I did UV treatment from the age of 14 to 20, then ended up on an immunosuppressants ‘Cyclosporin’ on and off from 21-32. When I wasn’t using Cyclosporin, I was given Enstilar, which is spray foam you put directly on your psoriasis patches.

Psoriasis messes up your sleep, makes you cranky, frustrated and sometimes you really hate the skin you’re in now I’ve  learnt to accept that having psoriasis isn’t bad.

When you have a skin flare up, how does it affect your mental health?

Sometimes it affects my mental health a lot, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it’s really bad, 70% of my body is usually covered with psoriasis. There’s so much itching, and scratching, making it hard to sleep. This is when all of the “I’m hideous” thoughts start to kick in. When it’s a smaller flare, I can usually manage my mental health better. 

Do your friends understand what it feels like to have a flare up?

My friends and my family all know about my psoriasis, and understand what I go through because I’m pretty open about it. As you get older you learn to accept the skin you’re in and instead of hiding it, just explain to friends what it is.

Can you share a story when your skin flared up and what went down?

I’m usually good at putting up a good front, so I don’t think anyone knows this story. There was a really stressful period when I was 19 — my Mum was in hospital, my overseas cousins were in town, and my uni work was pilling up. I was hosting my cousins, and it was so hard to do everything at once. My psoriasis flared up so much it was bleeding, and when I showered it stung so much no amount of moisturiser nourished the pain away. I learnt my lesson!

What are you go-to meals when you’re having a flare up?

A filipino dish called ‘Sinigang’. My Dad would make it with fish and delicious green veggies!

What advice do you have for others with your skin condition?

To not feel ashamed of the skin that you’re in. You have psoriasis, psoriasis doesn’t own you.

Any hacks or tips to help manage your dramatic skin?

Moisturise frequently (which sometimes I forget to do), drink lots of water (also something I forget to do), tune out all the negative comments that people say about your skin, and research psoriasis. Learning about it is really helpful.