Learning To Wear Problem Skin by Shelley Rolland-Poruks


Problem skin. For some people this isn’t just an oily T zone or a few extra pimples every month in your cycle, it’s a daily issue caused by one of the myriad of skin disorders and diseases that exist. I myself have been “blessed” with psoriasis.

Psoriasis (pronounced like sore-i-asis), is an autoimmune disease best characterized by patches of red and dry skin. In essence a disease that is happening on the inside of me, but shows up on the outside.

I’ve had psoriasis since I was 18 years old. For the record, not a great time to be covered in red dots head to toe. The disease itself wasn’t new to me as my father also “suffered” from it. In fact, psoriasis would seem to be highly genetic.

For someone as chatty as me…psoriasis isn’t something I’ve actually talked about out loud very much. And without getting all psychology 101, there are many reasons for this. Firstly, I think I had an excellent role model in my father who, not only is pained with psoriasis but also debilitating arthritis (which just so happen to be two diseases that often afflict people at the same time – they are both autoimmune diseases). My father has never let what is happening to him physically get in the way of being awesome. While no doubt there were (and are) days that he was frustrated by his skin or was in pain because of his arthritis, his attitude was/has always been very positive. For this reason, complaining about something I also had didn’t seem quite appropriate.

And really – what can one do? I truly can’t control when my psoriasis will flare up. On its own, it really has a mind of its own. I can attest to trying out many, many, MANY, types of traditional and non-traditional forms of medicine and care. I’ve removed food from my diet, taken homeopathic remedies, done 20+ years of ultra violet light therapy and taken very expensive over-the-counter and prescription drugs. I’ve seen fancy pants dermatologists from Fredericton, Ottawa and Toronto. Psoriasis is not curable. So as a patient managing this disease, it is about finding the right treatments and hopefully finding some relief.

Lucky for me I’ve almost always had a job with a good drug plan. This means that I have access to drugs that do work in eliminating the visual side effects and so while I won’t ever be rid of my psoriasis completely, I am lucky to have access to drugs that can provide relief and allow me to have pretty normal looking skin.

And that really is what we’re all looking for – a way to make our skin look . . .nice. One’s skin is so personal. It is at the core of who we are. The colour in particular is something we all look at. And by that I don’t mean race (although there is a lot to write about that too…) but rather the expectation that one’s skin is to be all of the same colour and texture.

There is no hiding bad skin – even though I have tried!  I’ve even worn pants and long sleeves in summer to hide my skin when it is flared up but you can’t really hide your face or your hands without appearing like something is wrong. Skin is the first thing you see when you see someone. You see if someone has bad acne, or an unusual birthmark, or alopecia or psoriasis. The only good thing about that is, that us problem skin people have our issues right there out on our sleeve; whereas most other people are hiding theirs.

Shelley Rolland-Poruks is a public servant, volunteer, wife and friend to many. A communications and public affairs wiz living in Ottawa, this is Shelley’s third contribution to Plenty. Plenty more of Shelley here and here.


3 thoughts

  1. Thanks for sharing your very personal message, Shelley! I have always thought you were beautiful, inside AND out!!! So proud to call you a friend!

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