'I was petrified of passing psoriasis on to my children'
Ros Foreman, aged 56 when interviewed, has had severe psoriasis since childhood. She talks about how pregnancy, sunshine and medicines have helped.
"I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 9. I'd been skipping to school and fell over, grazing my knees and elbows. The grazes didn't heal and, within a short while, my legs and arms were covered with psoriasis.
"The diagnosis wasn't a surprise. Psoriasis runs in my family. My aunties and uncles on both sides had it – one uncle was so severely affected that he was regularly hospitalised.
"It was hard growing up with psoriasis. I suffered at school because you're seen as an 'odd' child, and it made me quite shy and inhibited.
"I was backwards and forwards to the doctors all the time, and tried all the usual lotions and potions, but they only helped a little."
Dry heat and sunshine helps psoriasis
"A breakthrough came in my early 20s when my husband had a job opportunity and we moved to southern California. Within 6 months of arriving, my psoriasis had virtually disappeared.
"The dry, sunny, warm climate – and being able to walk around in shorts and T-shirts the whole time – really helped.
"After 7 years, we returned to the UK and, within a few months, my psoriasis was back. And with a vengeance. It's been with me most of the time since.
"I've had courses of UV light therapy, which help temporarily, and I'm now taking an oral treatment called methotrexate, which definitely suppresses the symptoms.
"But I don't know what will happen in the future. My psoriasis seems to be getting worse with age."
Pregnancy and psoriasis
Aside from the physical challenges of living with and treating psoriasis, Ros says the condition really gets her down psychologically.
"I'm a naturally sociable person, but sometimes I shut myself in the house and sink into a deep, dark place. I often don't feel good about myself, and my confidence falls to rock bottom.
"It's sad, but I feel that it's restricted my life in many ways. For example, I always wanted to be an air hostess when I was younger, but I knew they'd never take me because of my skin."
Ros recalls that she was absolutely petrified of having children in case she passed psoriasis on to them.
"It was a big, big consideration, and I put off pregnancy for 10 years because I didn't want any kids to have this horrible disease and go through what I have.
"I decided to go ahead and now have 3 sons – none of whom have psoriasis at the moment, thankfully. Strangely, my psoriasis improved during pregnancy."
Moisturisers and diet
Ros says she relies on a daily skincare regime, in addition to her medicines.
"Every day, I apply moisturising creams to my whole body, ideally morning, noon and night. It's time-consuming and messy, but I have to do it. I also steer clear of acidic drinks like orange juice, because I think that makes it worse in my case.
"The weather makes a big difference. Cold winters are the worst possible climate for me. Covering up with layers of clothes and having the heating on means my skin dehydrates and I have to constantly moisturise, which is really time-consuming.
"Spring and summer are so much nicer because my skin improves with the warmth and I find it easier to look after when I'm wearing summer clothes."
Read more about psoriasis.
Page last reviewed: 10 November 2017
Next review due: 10 November 2020