I was ten years old

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My psoriasis started when I was ten years old, itchy red patches with silvery scaly skin which fell off every time I moved. I was admitted to hospital for a month during which time I endured pain and the humiliation of a treatment which included foul smelling creams and baths, scrubbing my skin with a brush and having part of my scalp pulled off by nurses using a 'nit comb' to remove scales from my hair! Once my skin had cleared I was allowed home, but the psoriasis quickly returned.

At the age of twelve I started to get pains in my wrists, legs and fingers. I was told it was 'growing pains' and I shouldn't be concerned. Heat treatment helped, but the pains and psoriasis continued. I missed out on swimming and games at school because there was no privacy in the changing rooms, I was far too embarrassed to show my body to my classmates.

I was taunted at school and was very self conscious. I was even told by one 'friend' that I had scabs because I didn't wash. My hair was still long and my uniform was dark so every time I touched my scalp I had a snow storm on my jumper and I was very conscious of leaving any scales in my hair.

At sixteen I needed to be admitted to hospital again, but this upset me so much that I was released after a week and received treatment at home. My psoriasis continued and my joint pains got worse. By then I had also developed psoriasis in my finger nails. This upset me greatly as I had just stopped biting them but couldn't let them grow because it was so painful and the nails looked dreadful.

I got married at nineteen and had two beautiful daughters. But my marriage was not happy and the stress of it made my psoriasis worse. I was divorced after four years.

I started P.UV.A. treatment at an out-patient clinic. I had to visit the hospital three times a week, and the travelling involved and organisation of childcare presented all sorts of problems. In addition the tablets I had to take during the treatment made me feel sick and dizzy. The treatment continued for ten months but didn't really do that much for me and because of the risk of cancer it was stopped.

I have now moved to a different area with a new partner and am getting excellent treatment from the local hospital, my GP and his staff.

What really annoys me is people's ignorance of my condition. My daughter recently had a fight with a fellow pupil at school and drew blood. I received a telephone call from the headteacher saying that the child's mother was taking her son for a tetanus jab and she wondered if there was anything she needed to be aware of, as she had seen my skin!

All my friends accept my condition and are very comfortable with it. The only things that let me down are people's ignorance. Since attending my current hospital I have been told I have psoriatic arthritis, but after suffering the pain for twenty two years, I had already realised that!

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