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We All Have a Grandfather

We know psoriasis is as old as dirt. It goes way back in the ancient days when we believe various skin conditions call tzaeaath which translated as leprosy. I began to think about what it would have been like to have psoriasis back in the 1800’s. We know that his disease goes way back. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting my grandfather on my mother’s side; however, he did exist.

Looking back at psoriasis throughout history

In doing some research on skin disease, psoriasis is one of the oldest ones. People have had psoriasis before I was thought of. We know many diseases mimic psoriasis. It’s interesting that the Greek definition of psoriasis means to itch.

When I began to look at this definition from a place of clarity; I was surprised at my findings. My first thought was if I have plaque patches covered over my entire body, itching makes so much sense. Before 1800 they looked at leprosy as the same skin disease. It wasn’t until after 1800 that changes were made separately from leprosy disease.

Differences between psoriasis and other conditions

I have always envisioned that there was this very old man, a great grandfather or so who had a very chronic case of psoriasis. Of course, at that time he would have been isolated and grew very lonely due to the fact that he would be in isolation. They couldn’t tell him what he had and probably physicians back in the day feared this man. People probably feared him because they thought he was contagious, possess and was removed involuntarily from his loved ones.

I am talking before 1800 now. Whatever treatments they used back in the day such as arsenic and tar was not working. I can see this person being ignored, dealing with the social stigma of his disease. I would imagine him missing many meals due to the fact he was skipped over by society and the health people in the field at that time. I understand in this time era that they would ring a bell to notify the staff a person had psoriasis. At this point, it would be up to the people there if they wanted to go into that room. Can you imagine this person having poor hygiene because if he was in this condition, it would be impossible to bathe yourself, brush your teeth or comb your hair?

Thankful for those who came before me

I also had read in my research that before the 1800’s these psoriasis patients would be given cat and dog dune, urine and other waste products to experiment to see whether these things would help psoriasis I can only imagine anger setting in with any person when told to eat something unseemly.

My point I’m trying to make is can you imagine what our great, great, great ancestors had to endure with psoriasis? Through all their humiliation, torment, isolation and death, it revolutionized the psoriasis place for today.

I very thankful for my journey. Yes, it has been difficult as well, but nothing compared to the grandfathers of pre-1800. I’m thankful that today we don’t sit in isolation. I’m thankful that nurses and doctors can’t just pass us by. I’m thankful that they can’t just go outdoors and scoop up some mess and use it as an experimental drug. I’m thankful that for even the ones of us who have been covered with plaque psoriasis that we have the right to good hygiene. I’m thankful for all the changes in the history of psoriasis.

Reflecting on my experiences with psoriasis

Sometimes we need to just stop and think. Any of our great, great, great, grandfathers could have very well been this person in isolation. I know that there were grandfathers who lived this and for me, it stops me in my tracks. Why? Because I know I wouldn’t have survived in those days with having psoriasis. I look at just the past 55 years and how hard it has been for me and sometimes not wanting to go on.

Sometimes even the strongest grandfather will give up. We hear all the time; stop complaining because there is somebody worse off than you. This story proves this over and over. I have no right to complain about my psoriasis, even when I am doing badly. I just bow my head and think back to the 1800s and it reminds me what I could be facing if times had not changed. So as a psoriasis advocate I say; be thankful and one day we will find a cure.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • VickiN moderator
    5 months ago

    Appreciate the new perspective and gratitude, Diane <3
    -Victoria, Community Moderator

  • DianeT author
    5 months ago

    Thank Vicki,

    I can only imagine what our ancestors went through. We have come a long ways.


  • Clair G moderator
    5 months ago

    We have!

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