Superhuman Anti-Scratch Machine
Last updated: September 2018
I am a superhuman anti-scratch machine. What does that mean? It means psoriasis has given me the superhuman ability to avoid scratching in situations where others may find itching unbearable!
I’ve had this superpower for many years, but I didn’t realize how gifted I was until recently (please permit me the term “gifted,” as positive psoriasis powers can be rare… unless being a human snow globe is somehow a power?). My husband ended up with about 10 mosquito bites on his ankles after a weekend outside. He couldn’t keep from scratching for more than 10 seconds. He looked at me, miserable, and exclaimed “Vicki, is this what it’s like for you EVERY DAY?!” I think he gained a whole new respect for me. And this got me thinking, how many times can I count when this anti-scratch superpower has been in action?
I’ll start on even ground with my husband, because I’ve had bug bites aplenty. But unlike him, mosquitos don’t have anything on me! While my husband will scratch and scratch at his mosquito bites, mine go untouched. They never turn into inflamed welts because I simply don’t scratch them.
Sunburns are the perfect example that many “pains” eventually become itches! After a scab is done healing, what happens? It gets itchy; the same is true of sunburns. While your skin may start out angry and red, by the time the peeling happens, the pain has been replaced by itching. Not the localized itching of a bug bite, but widespread itching that’s hard to ignore. And yet, I don’t scratch.
I am unfortunately well acquainted with allergic reactions, dermatitis, and hives as well. I recently had a bad reaction after a laser hair removal treatment, where my legs broke out in itchy red bumps on top of every hair follicle. I deal with itchy eyes/ears every summer when the pollen goes wild, and every once in awhile I get hives from some mysterious environmental trigger. Still, I don’t scratch.
Let’s up the ante a bit, because if you’ve ever had lice, you know that they create a very potent itch. The saliva from lice is incredibly irritating to our scalps and creates a sharp, itching sensation. I’ve had lice twice in my life, and aside from the odd scratch here and there, I’ve mostly left my scalp alone.
I’ll finish off with the pinnacle… poison ivy. When I was back in high school, I spent a weekend up at a friend’s cottage on Georgian Bay. While there, I sat in a patch of poison ivy. Not grazed it, not bumped into it. Sat in it… while wearing shorts. What followed was one of the worst poison ivy rashes my Doctor had ever seen. Giant yellow bubbles that oozed liquid formed, from my thighs to my toes (have you ever had poison ivy between your toes? Oh have mercy). It was so bad I had to take prednisone while also slathering myself in steroid cream every night. And yet, I pulled jeans over my vaselined legs every morning and spent the whole day in classes. Sure, I squirmed, but I still functioned, and I didn’t scratch.
Why am I telling this story?
I’m telling you this story because I’ve gone most of my life with people assuming things don’t bother me. When I was a kid, adults assumed bug bites simply did not bother me, because they didn’t appear to be itchy. When I’ve broken out in hives, it’s hard for people to relate because I don’t spend all day scratching at them uncontrollably. And how could Vicki possibly have lice if she’s not scratching constantly?!
Here’s the kicker. It’s not that these things don’t itch, THEY DO. Sometimes, they itch so badly that the itching never leaves my conscious awareness. However, a lifetime of itchy psoriasis has steeled me to the point that I can overcome it. Even if I’m aware of itching every second of my day, I can maintain my composure and keep my fingers still, resisting the constant urge to scratch. The same is true of those who deal with chronic pain. One lady I know who has psoriatic arthritis once walked around for a week on a broken foot, because the pain was just as intense as her every day pain.
What about you? How has psoriasis turned you into a superhuman?
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?