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Your Skin 2022

My psoriasis is part of who I am, but it’s not who I am

Image provided by Damien Broderick

Damien Broderick

TikToker living with psoriasis, @damienbroderick

I was first diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 18. I’d never even heard of the autoimmune disease before a GP took one look at the red, raw, flaky patches that were covering over 80% of my body. 

Nobody knows exactly what causes a flare-up. We can try to put it down to stress or anxiety — but frankly, anything that triggers a response from the immune system has the potential to cause a flare-up.

Everyday pain

My current flare-up is my worst to date. It’s covering almost the same amount as the first; but unlike the first, there’s little hiding this one for a few reasons. One reason being it was very visible on my face for the first time.

I’ve gotten patches in really irritating places like my inner thighs and the backs of my knees. Unlike other times when psoriasis was causing more of a discomfort due to itching and affecting my self-esteem, this time, my self-esteem is perfectly fine, but I’m in physical pain daily.

Facing judgement

This time, I can’t hide it. That’s also partly due to my social media presence. I didn’t slow down the daily uploads of my outfit videos to almost 1 million followers. My skin is on full display, and of course — the questions come in, and so do the nasty comments.

In fairness, some are based on ignorance — people who haven’t heard of it or never seen it to this extent. I patiently respond to every comment trying to educate or enlighten people on what psoriasis is.

Over 125 million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis.

Overcoming challenges

I consider myself very lucky that my typically imperfect skin doesn’t affect my self-esteem or confidence. I went five years between flare-ups, so I know that what I’m suffering now isn’t how it’s always going to be for me.

Now, more than ever, I feel responsible to show my skin, be the person taking the brunt of those comments — the good and the bad — and using my platform to try and normalise psoriasis.

Be unapologetically you

Over 125 million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis. In Ireland alone, there are about 6,000 people diagnosed with it each year. In 2015, a report showed that approximately 75,000 work days were missed annually by those suffering.

My advice as someone who’s suffering and will suffer again is to see a dermatologist, use a good quality moisturiser and try not to scratch. Also, be unapologetically YOU! You dictate your life. Psoriasis should never define who you are or what you do.

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