psoriasis

My Surefire Skin Trigger

The last few weeks I’ve lived with one enduring fear: catching a cold or flu from all the sickness around me. The flu has hit my area hard, including my church and workplace, to the point I didn’t even want to leave my house.

I try to avoid getting ill mainly for one reason–it’s a surefire trigger for my skin conditions.

A Lifelong Skin Trigger

My very first major break-out of guttate psoriasis came on the heels of a strep throat infection I sustained as an eight year-old. My body became quickly covered with those drop-like red sores characteristic of guttate. I remember lying on the ground of the living room, overheated, crying as the fever and skin sores overran my body.

The last few weeks I’ve lived with one enduring fear: catching a cold or flu from all the sickness around me.

The infections came more often when I started immune suppression therapies such as cyclosporine and biologics. I know it’s difficult to say that a certain medication caused me to contract certain infections, but that’s an observation from my experience.

Bacterial infections such as strep throats, ear infections, and staph on the skin all flared my psoriasis and eczema. Viral infections, such as flus and colds, did the same.  About four years ago I contracted Influenza A. The respiratory viral panel confirmed I had an H3N2 virus. I can’t remember ever feeling so poorly with a viral infection. Tamiflu didn’t help much either. And boy did my skin break out with vengeance. It took weeks to calm that flare.

Whenever a fever hits with an infection I know my skin wil break out not too long after.

This time around seemed milder than others, though. The fever stayed low-grade for about twenty-four hours. Sure enough my skin broke out. I took a photo of my stomach to show how this characteristic guttate-like psoriasis looks when I get it.

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January 20, 2018. Psoriasis broken out on my stomach after a viral infection with a mild fever.

Sadly, I fear my skin will worsen yet as I took the photo just a day after the fever broke. Calming the flares from these infections can take a couple weeks or more depending on what other factors might be involved.

Living with Skin Triggers

Of course, the moral of the story is to avoid psoriasis and eczema triggers at all costs. But sometimes they can’t be avoided, especially during one of the worst cold and flu seasons we’ve had in many years. I washed my hands, tried not to touch my eyes or nose, and avoided touching certain surfaces such as doorknobs in public. Still I contracted a virus.

Of course, the moral of the story is to avoid psoriasis and eczema triggers at all costs. But sometimes they can’t be avoided.

Living with skin triggers is a fact of life, unfortunately.

I know, however, that this flare won’t last forever. Once the trigger is removed my skin will eventually start to improve. That fact does give me a measure of comfort. I do wish, though, I had that home phototherapy unit, or stronger natural sunlight, to help calm this flare. A wet-wrap with topical steroids could help also. I don’t want to do the wet wrap quite yet as it cools my body for a few hours. I’m still recovering from my viral infection.

I would love to hear from you! Do infections trigger your skin conditions? What do you do to lessen their impact?