Psoriasis: A Personal History
I’m a fortunate soul. Perhaps you’ve been seeing the countless ads for psoriasis treatments (HUMIRA® comes to mind). Five years ago, psoriasis was just another term lost in the medical dictionary. Explaining what it was and why it wasn’t contagious didn’t ease many minds among strangers. I’ve been on two decades of dealing with mild symptoms of psoriasis. I have a patch behind my knee, a spot on my rear end, and my left thumb. And I’m fortunate because many sufferers deal with worse.
For those that don’t know, psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the skin, and sometimes nails or joints. Rash patches form, flare up, itch and start to scale over. For me it’s been an inconvenient nuisance that I can cover up with my clothes, but I can’t begin to imagine what severe sufferers experience.
The patches have migrated around my body throughout the years. My mother tells me that when I was a kid, I had a spot on my nose. I think I remember that…I loved to pick at it. I didn’t know better. Then later in college I had a patch that formed on my neck, that funny enough, looked like a hickey. Yeah, you can imagine the countless inquiries I received on that one (especially women).
However, up until only a few years ago, I relied mostly on a triamcinolone ointment my dermatologist recommended. Honestly, I rarely used it because the most of my patches were on thin skin, and apparently that was one area of the body you couldn’t apply triamcinolone to (although I’ve come to learn that doctors grossly exaggerate for 0.1% creams). So I resorted to not treating my psoriasis until I found something better.
Discovering Coal Tar Soap
Eventually I came to hear about coal tar soaps, and how it relieved or lessened many psoriasis sufferers symptoms. At first, I didn’t want to believe in any more of the hippie-dippie remedies I’ve been reading for years (hypoallergenic, organics, etc) because they never worked for me. But, upon realizing that coal in coal tar soap actually meant coal, I decided “Why the hell not?”.
I walked down to my pharmacy, and purchased a single bar of soap for a crisp $5 bill and some change. Expensive, but worth it to try once. I hopped off to my shower at home to get my first impressions. Black water and an odd smell was what I thought to myself. But I was primarily disappointed it didn’t wipe away my psoriasis completely (a guy can dream right?).
But immediately I noticed something. My skin felt “calm”. Oddly calm. Almost a night and day difference. The thing about psoriasis sufferers is that you also deal with bouts of dry skin, typically eczema. It was the first time I stepped out of the shower without my skin feeling dry after being wet.
With skin feeling that amazing, I knew I had to keep trying the soap. Weeks later as the bar shrunk away, I began to notice that my psoriasis patches rarely flared up and scaled over. A welcome change to the typical once or twice a week flare ups.
As months continued on, I needed to pick up another bar of soap. The individual price was steep, so I looked to Amazon to my surprise which had a pack of 6 bars for under $20 (Link: Soap Works, 6-Count Coal Tar Soap). The bars came wrapped in a brown paper bag and offered a similar quality, but were a bit more powdery than the ones I bought at the pharmacy (the powder goes away after the first wash). It wasn’t long until some of my more visible patches went away. I thought they were just “migrating” again as I like to describe it, but as I sit right now, I only deal with the couple patches I mentioned earlier in this article.
I never would believe that something made from coal would actually help from psoriasis. It weighed on my mind why that would be the case. For the longest time I believed in the back of my mind that it was the environmental factors that affected my psoriasis. Maybe it is… but how ironic is it that something that has a bad as reputation as coal was the one thing that ended up making my life better?
Clean Coal has a new meaning.
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Last update on 2023-03-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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