Argh! That is the sound that comes out of my mouth at pretty regular intervals as I sit at my desk trying to ignore the itching on my scalp, ears, back, legs and sides. It feels as if little imps spend every night covering my skin in itching powder. According to the Wikipedia entry, the very word psoriasis is derived from the Ancient Greek “psora” which means itchy.

If you have psoriasis, you will know that this is by far one of the worst times of year. The weather gets colder, so heating goes on, which in turn dries out the skin. No matter how much moisturiser you slather on, no matter how carefully you pick the fabrics of your clothes, there is that little imp on your shoulder whispering “itchy, itchy, itchy”. The temptation to take a scouring pad to your skin just for a moment of relief can be overwhelming.

I am lucky to have strong and quite long nails; which in many ways is no accident, they are wonderful tools for scratching. However, I have also been threatened with having mittens taped to my hands as the sound of my scratching can be rather off-putting – or so I’m told.

Night time can be particularly bad. As I drift into the land of nod, my subconscious takes over and it doesn’t seem to be quite so disciplined in resisting the itch. More times than I care to remember, I have woken up and found myself covered in quite severe looking scratches, with the psoriasis patches look bloodied and angry. A battle has taken place on my skin without me even realising – clearly the imps don’t go to sleep when I do.

At the moment, my psoriasis is the worst it’s been in a long time. The psoriasis on my hairline is making a bid to cover my entire forehead and has sent outriders to my cheeks and eyelids. It’s 50/50 who will win this battle. Even as I type this, the tingling on my forehead is tempting me to claw at the skin; as if by scratching at it I will reveal a fresher skin that will be free.

So what can I do? Not much really. My bathroom and dressing table are testament to years of searching for a secret remedy. I probably have 20 different types of moisturiser; and I currently have four different shampoos. This year, I have decided to invest in some new weapons in my arsenal. Oil seems to be the latest fad in beauty, and strangely I think it might work quite well for psoriasis. I have a couple of different products that are oils for the scalp and face. It’s only been a few weeks, but so far the psoriasis is definitely winning the battle.

Perhaps by the longest night of the year, 21st December, I will have turned a corner and found the oils have beaten the psoriasis into a retreat. This battle is most likely being repeated up and down the country with oven gloves and mittens being secured on kids and grown up hands alike. I know we can all hold on until the Spring but I’m still holding out for my silent, rather than itchy night.



Jennifer White is a public affairs consultant who specialises in health at Lexington Communications. She has had psoriasis her whole life and is keen to share her experiences with others in the hope it might help them feel better about the condition. She regularly tweets on health policy and can be followed @JOCWhite.

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