21.05.2017 19:00

To live with psoriasis? The illness steals everything – including strength of will and self-confidence

Autor: Simona Zpěváková | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Sitting in a coffeehouse, she is about to take off her sweater. It is tough for her, but it's May 5th and she wants to celebrate the Skin Day. The date is referring to the natural pH of healthy skin, which is 5.5. Although the spring is in its half, suddenly it snows around her. But the white snowflakes are not ice. Those are the small particles of herself, which are falling down. It is because Sára K., 25-year-old, suffers from psoriasis, one of the most common skin diseases in the Czech Republic.

Brno – Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disorder that manifests in most cases in the form of reddish and raised lesions, which can be covered with white or silver scurfs of the skin. It is estimated that psoriasis concerns between three and five percent of the Czech population, that is, up to half a million people. But still, the awareness of this disease is at a sadly low level. "I often experience negative reactions. People around me are afraid that the disease is infective and they will have it too," says Sára K., 25-years-old, living in Brno. You can still see in her eyes how the cues and the constant explanations hurt her.

The young woman suffers from the one of disease’s forms, which is manifested by red bounded spots of scaly and peeling skin. However, the psoriasis has more forms, such as painful blisters, or even attacked joints.

Sára heard her diagnosis at the age of thirteen for the first time. "At that age, like other teenagers, my identity was confused. But to accept my body was much much tougher, because of the itching red flakes appearing on it," she describes her initial experience with the disease.

She does not like to remember her adolescence. Boys, whose attention she wished to get so much, were disgusted at her illness. The girls laughed at her. Even in the early summerdays she attended P.E. in long tracksuits to hide her legs. She waited until the other classmates were dressed in the locker room, or she dressed hiding at the toilets. "Even the teachers themselves did not know about the disease. I remember how the teacher in my graduation year asked me if I had fallen on roller skates, because I had scraped feet," says Sára.

She has spent a lot of her life at departments of dermatology. "The physicians were trying what my skin could bear. Sometimes I was like a painting canvas. Parts of my body were smeared with blue, white or red ointments. I was like a Czech tricolor," recalls the young woman.

The so-called local treatment, in which the affected areas are treated with a variety of ointments, gels and body lotions, is the most common form of the treatment. For more serious forms of psoriasis, physicians can prescribe systemic drugs or biological treatments. However, both variants are financially demanding. The health insurance companies are refunding the costs, but the percentage of patients prescribing it is low. It is also possible to take the so-called phototherapy, in which are patients illuminated by UV rays.

Sára's disease has spread from the first few spots and now it reaches about a third of her body's skin. Red spots adorn the various parts of her tiny figure, including arms and forearms, which are revealed now. Her feelings are not pleasant. She feels how she attracts the attention of people sitting in a café with her. She has already surrendered in the struggle with the illness. "In the last few years, it has taken everything I ever had. Including my strength of will and self-confidence," she says with and sighs sadly.

The psoriasis is interfering with her everyday life. "I'm dressing up to hide my skin. In autumn and winter, it's much easier than today, when temperatures climb to twenty. I'm afraid of summer, even though I know the sun rays are helping me and I should expose as much as possible," says beautiful Sára, pulling her hemp ointment from the bag and lubricating the skin at her elbows. It is the spot, where the scaly skin occurs most often, just like on the knees.

To wear a short sleeve blouse is for most people ordinary, but in her case, such step has been a great deal of effort. "It has happened to me many times when I was going to go to the city in a short dress that revealed the stains, that people were staring at me. It also happened, that some bus passengers pointed their fingers on me," she describes the unpleasant experience graven deep in her memory.

Stress, work neurosis, family problems – these are just a few of the many psychic factors that affect the condition of Sára's skin. "I used to scratch the blood before. Even now, when I'm relatively calm, my condition is not improving. It is easy to tell me, that I should relax. But we live in a hurried time. Stress is lurking on every corner," says Sára.

The influence of psoriasis on the quality of human life has been in the focus of both Czech and foreign scholars already. The disease is psychosomatic, i.e. that it is affected by the mental state of a person. The influence of the illness on interpersonal relationships and psychic state of patients was also studied by Marcela Kantorová, a student of Masaryk University in Brno. "People with psoriasis suffer much more from what other people think about them than from the disease itself. The psoriasis has a negative impact on mental and social life. There is a hatred of one's own body, a shame, a sense of guilt. It is not an infectious disease. However, it is very frustrating for them," writes Kantorová at the end of her work.

Although the disease is curable, it can not be cured. "Every time I am reading on foreign websites of various organizations focused on this disease, doctors are developing new drugs. I just hope that some day in the future I will be able to sit in the coffeehouse without any need to be ashamed of my skin," Sára puts on her sweater sadly.

Klíčová slova: psoriasis, disease, skin


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