So this is another sort of review, but unsponsored. I’m doing this to hope to help people.
For those of you reading this who know me, you know I have psoriasis. I have fought with my skin since I was 14 years old and it first popped up. I’d get patches of it here and there. There wasn’t much I could do for it. Smelly creams, sticky ointments, and useless diets (to rule out “food allergies”) were what I dealt with.
When I was 19, a dermatologist told me that the best thing for it would be UV light, specifically a tanning salon. He did not make this recommendation lightly, reminding me that this was dangerous with a risk of skin cancer, but since nothing else was working, I could give it a shot.
To my surprise (and happiness), it worked! My mother (who also had it – it’s hereditary) also tried the tanning salon, and also had it work for her. We were ecstatic. We would usually buy a tanning package of something like 30 tans and go once or twice a week. And the results would last for months, sometimes even a year. I was so happy to have normal skin again! I tried to be careful of how often I tanned, and not overdo it.
I tanned off and on for several years. When I stopped, my skin stayed clear for a VERY long time. Then, in college, it flared up. I found a local tanning salon and bought a small package – I didn’t really want to tan a bunch of times…I was a goth, I wanted to stay pale!
This time…it didn’t work. At all. I talked to the owner of the salon, and he said that over the last few years, tanning bed lamps had changed. They were now “safer”, but possibly less effective on psoriasis. What was I going to do now?
I made an appointment with a dermatologist. My skin was slowly getting worse. We tried some new ointments and they worked – at first. Then they just stopped. My scalp was awful. It flaked all the time, making me look as if I had a severe dandruff issue. I had to use tar shampoo (Neutrogena’s T-Gel), and it only worked sporadically. I took a trip to Denver….and my skin cleared up. The reason was that the place I was staying at had “soft” water, while my city in California had “hard” water. Although they sell things to “soften” your water, we lived in an apartment, not a house, thus we had no access to the water heater. After I came back from Denver, it was fine for a very long time. I had a boyfriend in San Francisco, and the water where he lived was soft, so I think showering there when I spent the night helped.
We broke up, of course, and over the next few years, my skin slowly but surely went out of control. I saw my dermatologist again. He prescribed Taclonex ointment, which worked for a while. Then he put me on Enbrel. I started taking it, and my skin went haywire. I had plaque psoriasis, yes, but my body broke out like crazy. I ended up with giant red splotches over 95% of my body, some as large as 2 inches in diameter. They itched so badly. I would wake up form scratching myself in my sleep. It crept across my body like an unwelcome shadow. Then I started to get one on my face. No. I was in tears over it. We called the dermatologist and he had me come in.
He had me take off my shirt took one look at me, and said, “This shouldn’t be happening!” He took a small sample (painless) off of my back, telling me, “Let me check something, I’ll be right back.” He walked in a few minutes later with a smile, telling me, “This isn’t your psoriaisis. The Enbrel is an immune suppressant. You have a non-contagious fungal infection on your skin.” He gave me a prescription to clear THAT up.
It was fine after that! I gave myself shots regularly (it was a stat dose pen, super easy, even for someone afraid of needles). When the Enbrel started to lose it’s effectiveness, we moved onto Humira, also a stat dose pen. I also went to Pennsylvania for a few months, and they had soft water as well, so it was a double whammy of good for my skin. I came back home, and the Humira lost it’s effectiveness, so I went on Stelara. Instead of an injection every 1 or 2 weeks, it was once every three months. My dermatologist’s office was near to my home (since this was a regular syringe), so I would go there for my shots. (Also, my dermatologist had years before STOPPED CHARGING ME, because he is an angel and I mourned when he retired). I was on Stelara for a few years. Unfortunately, all those years of taking immune suppressing drugs was taking it’s toll.
Having no immune system meant I always got sick. Someone would start coughing at the other end of the train car I was in during my commute, and I’d get sick. Having no immune system meant I didn’t just get a cold: I got tonsillitis, or a sinus infection, or a throat infection. That meant missing work to see a doctor and get a prescription. I missed a lot of work, and it cost me jobs. People like to say, “They can’t fire you for being sick!” They can, and they do, and it happened to me.
I started to look for an alternative. I saw an ad on TV for Otezla. I was a little worried on the side effects, particularly depression, but I had to try something else.
I am finishing up my first month on it, and I cannot recommend it enough! One pill twice a day, and NOT an immune suppressant! The only possible side effect I have noticed is that if I take them too close together, I WILL get a migraine, so I make sure to take one when I wake up (usually before 7 a.m.) and one with dinner (around 6 p.m.). No more sticking myself with needles, no more getting sick if someone sneezes within one mile of me. And I have not had an issue with depression.
So yes, Otezla. If you have psoriasis it can be horrible. They call it “the heartbreak” for a reason. You do NOT have to live with it! There IS something that will work! For instance, for my mom’s scalp psoriasis, she rubs coconut oil into her scalp before bed twice a week. She puts a little shower cap on her head, sleeps with it, and washes it out in the morning, and it has done wonders for her (plus her hair is wonderfully soft). If one thing doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, try something else. Find a dermatologist who won’t give up! Mine refused to give up even after I was ready to “just live with it”. You don’t have to. Below are photos (not me) of people on Otezla. What a difference the right med makes!