Psoriasis is a skin disease where the lowest layers of skin cells develop at a faster rate than the surface cells can be shed. It manifests as patches of thickened, itchy, skin with silvery scales on top and reddened, often raw flesh underneath. Not only unsightly, it can occasionally become life-threatening.
According to the NPF, some 400 individuals die each year from complications caused by psoriasis infections, etc. It is unknown how many lose body parts instead of dying, due to infection. Because psoriasis is such a very common disorder (average is 2 people in every hundred), one would think its risks would be better known and those 400 deaths could have been avoided. But it is amazing how little is known, sometimes, about the most commonplace of illnesses.
My husband has had psoriasis since his 20s. Now in his 50s, some years ago he learned a side of his disease he had not known before. It was a common practice for him to use a sharp knife to scrap off the thickened patches of placque, especially when his equally thickened nails were unable to the task. The patches on his calves were larger than hand sized and always had been. This time was different.
His right leg became redder and redder and began to generate so much heat that I could hold my hand more than an inch from the surface of his skin and feel the heat pouring off his leg. Though he wished to play it down as a minor thing, I insisted he take the day off from work and go in to see his doctor. He had spent much of his adult life without medical insurance. Now, my dependent, through my employment, he had insurance and no reason to delay.
It is a VERY good thing he didn't delay. According to his doctor, he had a very serious infection of the placque site, probably caused by less than sanitary nails or implements. Had he delayed even a day more in seeing her, the infection may have led to amputation.
He was ordered to bed rest, with his leg elevated; periodic soaks in the bathtub and a heavy regimen of antibiotics. Though this occurred at the time of a semi-annual convention, I compelled him to continue his regimen throughout the convention, even hosting role-playing games with his leg propped up on the table and soaking in the hotel's bathtub frequently.
He was fortunate. He had me to bully him into compliance. He was also fortunate to have my insurance to encourage him to seek an immediate diagnosis. I, too, once had to live years without insurance and self-care and self-treatment was the norm for me then too.
I know psoriasis is incredibly itchy. Finding relief is a continual battle. The best option, aside from medication, is a friend, male or female, with short, not too sharp fingernails, who can lift and peel the scales off in areas you cannot reach and who isn't squeamish about doing so. Do make sure they wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water beforehand; use antibacterial soaps in the shower whenever possible; and use aloe vera moisturizers if no medication is handy. And keep a sharp eye out for any excessive redness and heat that may signal infection. If you don't have insurance, stash some money away in a safe place against the eventuality of the need to see a doctor on short notice.
This website is for information purposes only and is not intended to be, or to serve as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.