Dr Pixie V/O: 29 year old Josephine Webb can’t face the pointing and staring any more.
Jo: When I was working in a care agency, an elderly patient who I was trying to help, refused any form of contact with me because she thought I was a leper.
Dr Pixie V/O: What Jo actually has is psoriasis, which makes the skin inflamed and itchy.
Dr Dawn: This is classic psoriasis Jo. What happens is that the skin cells actually turn over 10 to 20 times more quickly than normal skin, so you get this scaling. And do you find almost like you’ve shed skin? It’s worse on the backs of the knees and the fronts of the elbows.
Jo: The treatments that I’m using, they’ll work to a certain point, and then it’ll come back. It doesn’t seem to want to disappear completely and leave me at peace.
Dr Pixie V/O: Psoriasis affects 1 in every 50 people in the UK. The causes are unknown but it’s not a contagious condition. There is however a genetic link and it tends to run in families.
Jo: I’ve been suffering for 3 years and I’ve got to the end of my tether. I don’t wear skirts, I don’t wear shorts, I don’t wear perfumes because they hurt. I want to be me again, you know, being able to wear anything I want, being able to walk out the front door without having to put makeup on. Put make up because I want to, not because I’m trying to hide.
Dr Dawn: We ought to send you off to see a specialist. My guess is that they may well be speaking to you about some light treatment, it’ll be several sessions over a number of weeks. Go and have a check with the consultant and come back and let me know what’s going on.
Dr Pixie V/O: Jo required a 10 week course of light treatment, it might look like a tanning booth, but this isn’t about going brown. Jo will only have blasts of UVB rays for up to a minute at a time. This won’t cure her psoriasis, but the 30 short treatments should help alleviate her symptoms. Jo will soon find out if it’s having the desired effect.
Dr Pixie V/O: Jo Webb is back at the clinic after just one fifth of her treatments for psoriasis so Dr Harper can see how things are progressing.
Dr Dawn: Jo, come on in, how’re you doing?
Jo: Fantastic, my face is a lot better, I’m nowhere near as itchy as I was, my arms are clearing up certainly.
Dr Dawn: Come on let’s have a look, let’s have a look; you’re itching to show me.
Jo: I am I am!
Dr Dawn: Come on through. So, this looks a lot, this has really faded down here, and your tummy is much paler too. Oh wow. Well I think that’s a great result, you’ve only had 5 treatments did you say? So you’ve got a few more to go, and I think you’ve had a really good reaction there. It’ll take a bit longer on the legs, it will, but then you knew they were going to be the more difficult patches anyway. But I mean look at you from here, you just look so much better.
Psoriasis is quite rare, affecting around 2% of the population, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less distressing. Dr Dawn Harper examines a patient who just wants to be normal again and she is referred to a specialist who suggests a course of light treatment may provide some light relief.
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