Polaroid photos of a person walking along a path. The path has plaques that lessen as they walk.

The Journey to Successful Psoriasis Treatment

A metaphor that aptly describes my life with psoriasis is the journey. As with many aspects of life, I’ve come to see the journey as being as important as arriving at the destination. I’ve lived with psoriasis since childhood and I’m not sure when my journey with it will end. In the meantime, I seek to live as fully with psoriasis as possible.

Embarking on a psoriasis treatment journey

A major aspect of my psoriasis journey has been treating my stubborn, recalcitrant psoriasis. I’ve tried what feels like just about every treatment from topical ointments, phototherapy, systemic pills, and injectable biologics. Growing up in a Chinese immigrant family my parents also introduced traditional Chinese remedies including herbal formulations and diets.

Each person living with psoriasis is unique and will respond to treatments individually. So, naturally, another person’s experience will be different from mine. Here I share a few thoughts from my journey with treating psoriasis that might be helpful for those who embark on it themselves.

It starts with the first step

The decision to treat psoriasis is one that sets me on an unpredictable path. There are no guarantees a treatment will work the way my doctor and I hope it will.

Some treatments have been effective for a time, then became less so later. Others have come with side effects that I could tolerate where others I needed to stop due to them. Some worked quickly while others more slowly.

It’s that unpredictability of what will happen with my treatment that makes the decision that much more difficult. I’ve chosen to treat my psoriasis because it becomes quite severe and intolerable if I don’t. With that decision made, I next look at goals for treatment and what treatments to try to reach those goals.

Let's talk treatment goals

Destinations can be general or specific. Generally, I wanted my skin to improve and clear while not experiencing any side effects.

Later I learned about the National Psoriasis Foundations’ Treat to Target that sets out an initial treatment goal of having psoriasis on one percent of your body surface area in three months.

Besides a target of how much psoriasis I might have on my body, I also have focused on areas of my body that especially bother me such as my scalp, genitals, or hands. Along the way I have appreciated open and honest discussions with my healthcare providers about expectations and goals for treatment.

What you need for the journey

My healthcare providers have been key on my psoriasis treatment journey. I look for a dermatologist that knows how to treat psoriasis, takes the time to know me and my condition, is accessible, and allows me to be part of the treatment decision-making process. I feel more confident in moving forward with treatment when I have a trusted dermatologist on my side.

My family and friends are also important on my treatment journey. My wife knows the anxiety I feel about my psoriasis better than anyone. I feel I can share the ups and downs with psoriasis and process treatment decisions with her. Friends periodically ask me how my skin and treatments are going and are available to listen.

Fellow psoriasis advocates understand the journey in a way that others might not. Connecting with them over social media, reading their stories, or meeting them at psoriasis events have provided encouragement, ideas, and inspiration.

I’ve found other areas of support essential on my treatment journey too. I need good health insurance and the support of my health insurance provider to cover prescriptions medications. It's helpful to know what to do when medications are denied coverage. Good resources online, such as the National Psoriasis Foundation website, provide general treatment information as I consider options to discuss with my doctor.

Being prepared to change course

My wife and I recently reminisced about the time we got lost searching for her cousin’s house on the outskirts of Calgary. We drove hours that day and found ourselves tired and disoriented in the middle of the night. With no GPS to guide the way back then, we decided to change roads to head toward a porch light. Miraculously, we eventually found her house.

When I start on a journey I don’t like to change course. But with psoriasis treatments I’ve worked closely with my dermatologist to determine when it’s time to try something else.

Evaluating how psoriasis treatments are going, including their effectiveness and safety, is an essential part of a successful psoriasis treatment journey. When I have established treatment goals, I can easily reference them to see if my current treatment is working well enough to reach those goals.

Finding gratitude along the way

I am grateful for the innovations in understanding and treating psoriasis as I look back on my decades-long journey with psoriasis. I live with less active psoriasis than I did ten or twenty years ago.

My journey, though, is not over. I plan to stay on the path of finding the best ways to manage my psoriasis and minimize its impact on the quality of my life.

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