Condition Reallygets under Your Skin; Psoriasis Can Affect Anyone - Even Top Fashion Models like Cara Delevingne, Who Has Hinted That She May Quit the Catwalk Due Flare Ups. as Psoriasis Awareness Week Approaches, ABI JACKSON Reveals Just How Distressing This Chronic Skin Problem Can Be for Some
As well as connecting with strangers with similar experiences, opening up about her condition also enabled friends and family to realise just how deeply psoriasis had affected her.
"It's changed how I look at my psoriasis. For me, it's now more of a positive than a negative and I've become quite involved with psoriasis on a wider level.
"Last year I started fundraising and I went to Parliament (to take part in the See Psoriasis: Look Deeper campaign, highlighting the need for emotional and psychological support for people affected by severe psoriasis).
"I keep an eye on new research and psoriasis in the news to write and tweet about too."
Jessica's blog was named one of the 'Best Psoriasis Blogs' in the 2013 Healthline Awards, but the greatest prize is knowing she's doing her bit to raise awareness and help others.
Another big turning point for Jessica was having counselling. "I changed dermatologists during my teens and the new one recognised instantly how much I was suffering and how it was affecting me. Since then, things have been brilliant."
As well as finding more suitable treatments, which are working well, talking to a counsellor helped Jessica come to terms with her feelings and put them into perspective.
"I'd advise anybody to be truthful with their doctor," she says. "Tell them how you feel. Counselling isn't a cure but it's really helped me. And there are lots of good blogs out there. The Psoriasis Association has a great website for adults and teenagers, with sections on how to cope with things like going away to university."
Carla Renton, information and communications manager at the Psoriasis Association, knows that the psychological impact of the condition is one of the most crucial aspects.
"As a highly visible condition, it can have a profound impact on people's psychological and emotional wellbeing. People with psoriasis often have very low self-esteem, which may be compounded by the real or perceived reactions of others," she says.
"We often hear of people coping with it by 'avoiding' - not wearing - T-shirts or shorts, not going to the hairdressers, even not having relationships. Everyone's different and there are people who cope very well with their psoriasis, but we also know that a third of sufferers experience depression and anxiety, and up to one in 10 contemplate suicide."
Carla notes that callers to the charity's helpline often talk about feeling isolated, and frustration is another factor. "It can have a huge impact on the day-to-day," Carla adds, as applying creams can take hours.
Echoing Jessica's advice, she's keen to point out that support is out there. "And remember you're not alone - 1.8 million people in the UK have it. If someone is struggling to cope, it's important they open up to their healthcare professional." | Psoriasis Awareness Week is November 1 - 7. For more information visit www.psoriasisassociation.org.uk or call the charity helpline on 08456 760 076.
FOR CARA DELEVINGNE pointed out, Fashion Week was the worst possible time for her skin to flare up with angry, red, dry patches. As she paraded down the catwalks earlier this year, the 21-year-old model was struck by a bout of psoriasis, which she later wrote about on Twitter revealing that she'd even thought about changing careers because of it.
"I want to make music, I want to act and I want to sing. I want to do something that doesn't make my skin erupt," she said.
Stress isn't the only trigger for psoriasis flare-ups, but it is a very big factor for many people with the condition, which is the case for many autoimmune or immune-linked diseases.
It causes raised, dry, flaky patches - which are red on fair skin or darker on darker skin tones - and can affect any area of the skin, though it varies in severity. …