The year 2020 can best be compared to a freshly filled nappy sack ( used diaper bag ), warm but full of shit! It has been one thing after another for me health wise this year and now it appears that I have developed psoriasis on my scalp ( this is where I have the biggest patches ) and on small areas of my limbs.
For years I have been plagued with what I thought was a bad case of dandruff. My scalp has always driven me crazy with it’s itchiness. I can’t go more than 2 days without washing my hair as my scalp seemed to slough off and be covered in a thick crust of skin. I would always avoid scratching my scalp in company or when out of the house due the avalanche of white snow that would fall from it. I would when wearing dark colours be constantly checking my shoulders for signs of snow. I became paranoid that everyone would know my scalp was a mess. I have avoided hairdressers in the past, although I have been working with one for around 7 years, I have much less frequent visits than I would like purely because if my scalp is particularly bad I will avoid it.
In the past when I have been really poorly in hospital and unable to wash my hair, I always develop a crust of skin around my hairline, that is so thick that you can scratch it away ( quite satisfyingly) with your finger nails. This would appear in a matter of days and is one of the reasons why I can’t go any longer than 2 days (unless I am very poorly) without having my hair washed due to the build up of skin and the itchiness it will cause.
Over the years this has been my dirty little secret. I have tried more treatments / shampoo’s than I care to mention – T gel, Polytar, Nizadol, Alphosyl, apple cider vinegar, sugar free diets, juicing. Whilst some of the treatments may reduce the itching they never get rid of the flakes. I was (currently) at my wits end as my scalp had started bleeding at the slightest scratch and the amount of flaking was getting worse. I was always conscious of it and was getting to the point where I was coming around to the idea that I needed to contact the doctor. I have been putting it off for ages due to Covid and feeling that I would be treated like I was being overly vain.
Last night my hairdresser came over to sort my hair out for Christmas. I was having a half head of highlights with some light brown / dark blonde put through it so that I don’t look like a brassy blonde and so that the regrowth is much less noticeable. As she was putting the foils on Rachel ( yep it gets confusing as she is called Rachel too) said ” Did you know you have psoriasis on your scalp?” I looked at her a bit taken a back and she said “yeah your scalp has got lots of raised plaques on it about the size of a 50p , none of it is infected, it is all really dry, do you get it in the winter?” I almost burst into tears. For years I have believed that I have psoriasis.
I said to Rachel that no I didn’t have a diagnosis of psoriasis, that I have had issues with my scalp since I was a baby and this was something I had long suspected.
When I was a baby I had horrendous cradle cap, as many babies do. My mum has described it to me as like a crust of flaky skin around my hairline. She would treat it with baby cradle cap shampoo but it would just knock it back just a bit. As a small child around primary school (infants) age, I can remember my mum washing my hair in the kitchen sink every Sunday morning and applying a very smelly shampoo that I would have to keep on my head for a while before it could be rinsed off, to rid me off what we still called cradle cap.
At that age all the girls at school wore their hair in bunches. I longed to have my long blonde hair in bunches and plaits just like Heidi did in the TV series of the same name. My mum gently told me that I couldn’t have my hair in bunches as it would reveal my flaky scalp and I would get picked on. Because it was something I couldn’t see and didn’t understand I was desperately unhappy that I couldn’t be l like all the other little girls in my class. It was bad enough that I was never allowed to have patent leather shoes but sensible Clarke’s. I stuck out like a sore thumb already due to being so tall. I looked like Gulliver visiting Lilliput. Add in the fact that this was the early 1980’s and I was the school’s only vegetarian, not having bunches made me feel even more of an oddball.
I dread to think the amount of money I have spent on trying to attain a flake free scalp. I should have just spoken to the doctors when the 20th shampoo I tried didn’t work. There was one I tried that said you had to remove all jewellery before applying as it would tarnish it. The number of times I forgot and it would turn my silver necklace black. All of them would alleviate the itching to some extent but none of them stopped the blizzard of shoulder snow. I wish I had been brave enough to say something to the doctors instead of feeling ashamed / dirty or that this wasn’t a real medical problem that needed dealt with.
This morning I plucked up the courage to send in an e consult form asking for help with treating my scalp. I have also got spots of psoriasis coming up on my legs and arms however they are small and isolated. As Mr Myasthenia Kid also has psoriasis I have been putting a little of his Dovabet ointment on the bits that come up and that seems to be enough to get them to calm down and disappear. I wonder now though if psoriasis has been the reason why the toe nail on my big toe falls off every two years and grows very weirdly. It isn’t a fungal infection but it has horrendous ridges and pits in it. I have never been able to get a straight answer from doctors but looking at these photos of psoriasis on nails well that is my toe nail on the big toe in my left foot. https://www.healthline.com/health/nail-psoriasis#pictures .
Having a quick look on the internet I came across this really good info graphic which shows the changes to nails due to psoriasis, most of which I have had happen to my finger nails and that one toe nail. It is amazing now the wealth of information that is at our finger tips. https://creakyjoints.org/symptoms/psoriatic-arthritis-nail-changes/
It is a weird feeling when you suddenly get an answer or validation for an issue that you have been suffering from for years. I could have hugged and kissed Rachel last night – but we couldn’t due to Covid! I had a quick look at my scalp this morning and found a couple of the raised plaques that she had been talking about. It also explains why my scalp is always super sensitive after a hairdressing appointment. I have ordered some more shampoo and conditioner that is parabens and sulphate free in the hope this soothes my scalp. I have also cut back on the products that I am using to see if this helps it at all. At the moment my scalp is just driving me crazy the itching is insane. I am doing my best to ignore it I am sure it is only feeling like this due to knowing that it is there.
** update I did an e consult with my doctors surgery on Tuesday, they got back to me on Wednesday and have done me a prescription for some stuff to apply to my scalp for 4 weeks and to let them know how I get on. I also had to send them some photo’s. I was home alone so attempting to get photo’s of ones own scalp is a bit of a challenge. Thankfully I managed to find a couple of bits on the side of my scalp and clipped my hair out of the way to take the photo. I then got a text message back to say yes that is psoriasis. It has only taken 10 years to get this diagnosed.