I visited my dermatologist, Dr. M., at the UC Davis Health Dermatology clinic in Sacramento. This visit came about 4.5 weeks after starting Tremfya.
I’m a dreamer. Psoriasis treatments, however, dash my hopes more times I care to remember. After five weeks on the new biologic medication Tremfya (guselkumab) do I dare to dream that it just might clear my skin of nasty psoriasis lesions?
On Friday, after my second dose of Tremfya, I visited my dermatologist for the first time since starting the new treatment.
My Biggest Fear
I looked forward to the dermatologists’ assessment of my skin condition, hoping they would say it’s starting to work. First, the resident entered for the initial consult. He looked friendly and willing to listen to my travails. He had no choice anyhow.
Ten years later I have the same fear: Tremfya will clear my psoriasis, while eczema takes its place.
I told him my biggest fear is how clearing my psoriasis could lead to worsening eczema. That’s what happened when I took Humira (adalimumab) some years ago. Here was my assessment back in 2008:
My psoriasis is doing reasonably well. The sores on my palms, scalp and feet have worsened but not to the point of great discomfort. Those nasty, stubborn sores on my flanks and back have even become less red and inflamed. My legs and arms have more psoriasis overall, but the plaques do not flake much and the color is pink not red.
The rash is still the squeaky wheel that gets most of the attention. I focus on it so much that I do not notice how well the psoriasis is doing. For the unbearable itch of the rash I still try to take an antihistamine every night. While it does help me get to sleep, I still have my difficult itchy nights wondering when it will go away.
Ten years later I have the same fear: Tremfya will clear my psoriasis, while eczema takes its place. I told the dermatology resident about the rashes on my scalp and upper back, spreading to my legs and arms. Eczema did emerge on my skin, but why? I can’t blame Tremfya yet since I periodically endure eczema flares in general. I hope this one is not from taking its place.
Follow my Tremfya journey:
Tremfya (Guselkumab) Week One
3 Weeks with Tremfya: The Waiting Game
6 Weeks with Tremfya: Redefining Expectations
8 Weeks with Tremfya: It’s Working!
10 Weeks with Tremfya: One Step Back
12 Weeks with Tremfya: The Third Injection
14 Weeks with Tremfya: What’s Next?
16 Weeks with Tremfya: The Verdict?
20 Weeks with Tremfya: Read the Instructions! (4th Injection)
24 Weeks with Tremfya: A Pattern Emerges
28 Weeks with Tremfya: Still Working? (Injection #5)
38 Weeks with Tremfya: The Question/Answer Edition
42 Weeks with Tremfya: Coping with a Skin Flare
After I shared my fear, the resident explained why clearing psoriasis or eczema tends to exacerbate the other. I’m not a cellular immunologist, so he needed to explain the process as simply as possible. A T-cell needs a pathway to go, and if it’s blocked going one way, it will go the other way, causing one kind of inflammation or another. I thought of a channel of water hitting a diverter directing the stream left or right. With a laser like focused treatment like Tremfya, however, it’s possible I would have less inflammation with eczema.
Less eczema would be wonderful.
Dr. M came in a few minutes later. I excitedly showed him my arms, lower legs, and other areas that show improvement. He did say the psoriasis improved, but it’s still too early to assess Tremfya’s assessment. He reminded me that charts show peak efficacy around 12-14 weeks. I have a long way to go with Tremfya, while needing to taper off cyclosporine and manage the eczema outbreak.
Taken 9/21/17 after 4 weeks on Tremfya. Definite improvement from before, but a ways to go yet.
Taken 7/18/17 entering my 3rd month on Otezla. Yikes.
Rashes on my upper back convinced him to prescribe wet-wrap therapy (using wet clothing over low to medium strength topical steroid) while waiting on Tremfya. The next day I took the afternoon off for a four-hour scalp treatment and a three-hour session in wet pajamas. At least I could work on my Sunday message for church while passing the time.
Dr. M did say the psoriasis improved, but it’s still too early to assess Tremfya’s effectiveness.
Next Visit in Six Weeks
I made an appointment six weeks later hoping I wouldn’t need to contact him beforehand. By then we could add treatments such as phototherapy, pulse cyclosporine doses, and more wet wraps as needed. I might even get a new home phototherapy unit!
I left feeling a bit less fearful knowing a plan’s in place if my eczema breaks out. I’m feeling ever more hopeful that Tremfya will clear the psoriasis. I’m looking forward to what the next few weeks bring.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)