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Strep Triggered Her Devastating Experience
from T

Hi Ed:  I have been a reader and admirer of your site for over two years now and I thought (for some reason) that now would be a good time to share my little story with you.

Since the age of 4 I have had psoriasis, though in a very very mild form.  It amounted to no more than the occasional spot on my body and some flaking of the scalp. It never in any way played a role in my life. This all changed when I woke up on a bright morning in late August 2002. I found an unusual rash had started on my shoulders and neck; it got worse and uglier looking by the hour. I was very alarmed by its appearance and visited my GP that afternoon (by this stage the rash had spread to my stomach, back etc. and was making it's way toward my legs). I was assured by the GP that it was nothing — "a severe allergy" or perhaps "a virus."  I went home, not convinced.  Three days later I was covered head to toe in the most ugly, hideous stuff I have ever seen.  There was not a patch of normal skin left. As a 22 yr old female, recently new to the dating scene, it was, as you can imagine, soul destroying to see.

I saw a new GP who was quick to diagnose me with guttate P, a “very severe case,” he said. I had a case of strep throat/tonsils at the time and he was quick to prescribe antibiotics for them. He also strongly advised me to have my tonsils removed. I was given a very expensive prescription for a cream (I have forgotten the name) which did nothing and sent off on my way to wait for my derm appointment in a couple of weeks.

Words can not describe the feelings of despair I felt during those two weeks. More tears than I ever thought possible were shed and I have never felt so hopeless in my whole life. I know these are strong sentiments, but for a 22 yr old female with little else to worry about, something like this is devastating.

I didn't venture out apart from work for the whole two weeks. None of my clothes were suitable as they displayed my back, chest area, arms etc and I simply could not face the stares of others. I had to amend my work wardrobe as any tight fitting trousers or tops affected my skin and caused it to bleed and turn even redder and even rawer. (At this stage I didn't know what a huge difference dollops of moisturizer can make!). My face was affected by pale pink lesions and I had to endure the stares of work mates and colleagues, all quick to offer words of "advice."

Finally I got my derm appointment and it was a life saver. I was immediately booked for a tonsillectomy and UVA light treatment. It was another two weeks before I commenced treatment and further four weeks after that before I saw any improvement in my skin. I am pleased today that for me UVA treatment worked and within 2 or 3 months of starting it my skin was 100% clear.  I had a fabulous tan to boot!

That was over two years ago now and apart from a slight flare up after my tonsillectomy I have been clear ever since.

I don't really know why I am writing all this, perhaps as a sign of hope for any sufferers like myself. I know that after my diagnosis I read everything on the topic from cover to cover, willing to read someplace that there was hope for me out there. I guess I have never ever forgotten the feeling of stepping out from the shower and catching sight of my ruined skin in the mirror. Or waking up in the morning and forgetting the horror of the situation until a scabby hand or bleeding stomach served as a reminder.

I do not know if my Psoriasis will ever return and I hope every day that it won't. No-one realizes how despairing a situation it can be until they experience it themselves.

On the plus side, I believe it is one of those things that is character building and educational.  I, too, was guilty of staring at or feeling horror at lesions on other people's bodies before my own first-hand education!  I can vividly remember for a good six months after I cleared spending hours at the mirror admiring my clear skin and feeling panic welling up inside me at the most minor of blotches or signs of change.

Since my own recovery, my father has been diagnosed with PA and he has taken methotrexate for the past year or so for this with excellent results.  Interestingly, the P in his scalp, which he’s had all of his life, has also vanished under the MTX regimen.

I don't know how far we are from discovering a total cure for Psoriasis but for me it would seem to have definite hereditary links and also strep infection links....

For anyone out there reading this, including yourself Ed, still waiting for their own personal cure or discovery of what works for them, I wish you all the best of luck.

Sorry if I have waffled on for too long, I really just wanted to share my story with you all. –T


Ed’s Response:  I’m glad you shared your story with us, T.  Lot’s of flakers got their first taste of P when it was triggered by a strep infection.  In some respects, and given the hereditary probability that you had a susceptibility, I suppose you were fortunate the hormonal changes of puberty and adolescence didn’t trigger your P. As devastating as your severe involvement was for you at 22, imagine how much worse it could have been as a teenager. 

I’m glad to read that UVA light treatment is working for you.  Recently Enbrel was approved for P treatment by the EU and is now being prescribed in Germany (and, I must assume, the other EU countries will follow suit).  When/if UVA stops keeping your P at bay, this biologic — or others that may be available to you at that time — may mean you never have to take the systemics, like methotrexate, that come with a host of precautions and adverse side-effects.

Now that you’re part of the family, I hope you’ll stay in touch with us.  -Ed

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