Happy Psoriasis Awareness Month!
Hi Claire, Please tell us little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Claire, I’m 43 years old. I have two young children and live near London with them and their Dad. I’m creative and enjoy drawing and doing crafts with my children.
I love nature and the outdoors, particularly forests and the sea, and walking and exploring make me happy. I love concocting skin-friendly recipes and plating them up to look pretty, so they’re a gift to myself full of goodness and nourishment.
When were you Diagnosed with Psoriasis?
I was 12 or 13 years old. My Auntie has it so when my Grandma noticed it around my hairline she recognized it as psoriasis. The doctors thought it was but weren’t sure.
They gave me smelly coal tar shampoo and steroid creams etc but mostly I just carried on as I was. At that stage, it was mostly scalp and spine, areas that weren’t seen a great deal, although I was embarrassed by the flakes.
What do you think caused it?
I believe it was already in me to have it as it’s in our family, but I became very depressed at around this age, and I think the extreme emotions and stress helped to bring it out.
What Foods do you Avoid?
I’ve been gluten-free for around 15 years due to stomach issues and dramatic weight loss. My skin improved a little when I gave that up and my hair got a little thicker.
However, I’ve become vegan for the last two years) I was already vegetarian) and now avoid too much sugar, nightshade vegetables, and alcohol to help my skin heal. I always stick to vegan and gluten-free but the rest isn’t always easy! However, if I have a flare, I’m extra careful to cut it all out completely.
What Foods do you Eat to Heal?
Lots of fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits.
I make green smoothies to get more vitamins in and occasionally drink celery juice every morning for a while. When healing from my most recent flare, I think the celery juice really made a difference.
I take vitamin b12 and a vegan omega 3 oil daily. In the winter months, I also take a vegan vitamin d. I also try to get lots of turmeric into my diet as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
I love Pukka Teas’ Turmeric Active blend and have a cup most evenings as well as chucking turmeric in my recipes.
When I feel I need to, I also do a course of probiotics as there are definite links between good skin and a healthy gut.
Do you avoid gluten and what do you think about Gluten sensitivity in Psoriasis?
There does seem to be a link! Other people with psoriasis appear to have benefited from giving it up. It seems that many people with psoriasis also have gluten sensitivity. I wonder if this is being researched more?
A lot of people ask, What to eat for Breakfast?
I sometimes have a green smoothie (spinach, fruit, avocado, and seeds) or gluten-free vegan toast with almond butter, banana and maple syrup dusted with cinnamon, or gluten-free oatless (yep I can’t eat oats either) porridge with raisins nuts and/or seeds and cinnamon or gluten-free cereals (I like Mesa sunrise by Nature’s Path) with grapes, chopped banana, nuts and seeds, and soya or almond milk.
Those are my staples but at weekends I’ll often do a tofu scramble or avocado and pumpkin seeds on toast with some rocket leaves on the side. Giant mushrooms grilled with vegan cheese and herbs are a treat! I love breakfast and always make sure I have a nutritious one, to start the day well and avoid snacking on rubbish.
Name your top Triggers
Not looking after myself properly (lack of ‘me time’, lack of sleep, too much rushing around etc)
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl sulphate and other chemicals and fragrances in many products.
- Get some Sun on your skin
- Love yourself
- Work out what is important to you.
To moisturise, I use the gentlest, most natural products I can find, Lavera I’ve used for years, Balmonds and Salcura I’ve recently discovered. I use Balmonds oil on my body after every shower, twice a day if I’m in a flare, mixed with some Salcura Zeoderm on the worst areas.
I use Salcura Dermaserum on my face with a daily moisturiser over the top in the mornings and then the serum with Balmonds daily moisturising cream at night. I use a mix of Lavera, Balmonds and Salcura shampoos and body lotions, cleansers,hand lotions etc.
To relax, I do yoga, walk, swim or meditate (although I’ve done very little meditation recently-partly due to lockdown and having children home 24/7 and the pools are closed although I managed to swim in the sea!) Its sometimes hard to make myself get up and do it but I always feel more relaxed, happy and a sense of achievement after. It’s so important to carve out time for yourself.
Sun helps my skin hugely. I try to get outside every day, even for 15 minutes without suncream. Sitting in the back garden on a cold day with my legs and arms exposed may make me look like a loon but who cares! It clears up areas where little spots of psoriasis have started to emerge. If it’s very sunny or I’ll be out for a while, I obviously use suncream (Green People factor 30 or Natural Tone factor 30, both are very natural and let my skin breathe, I cannot use regular suncreams as they give me itchy bumps all over. These are also reef safe which is very important to me) Burnt psoriasis skin is not fun and can cause you to have more flares in the burnt area in future so I’m careful.
Loving yourself as you are is the hardest! When you’re mid flare, exhausted, in pain and feel like everyone is looking at you it can feel impossible. However, I feel I have a lot to thank psoriasis for. It helped me realize how much crap I was eating, how I wasn’t looking after my mental and physical health enough, and how I need to focus on me and what I really want sometimes too! It’s like a personal barometer for how well I’m doing at caring for me- if more than my usual amount of psoriasis starts to appear then I know I need to look at myself and nourish and nutrients my mind and body more.
Also, loving yourself is about recognizing and having compassion for the difficult times you’ve been through, how you’ve coped with psoriasis as well as other difficulties. I love the term ‘psoriasis warrior’. When I hear of others with psoriasis (and other skin conditions), I’m filled with empathy as I can understand the hurdles they have faced. The community online has been such a blessing to me. It’s where I learned about the nightshade connection, natural products, and healing and where I’ve been supported by those who understand.
What would you tell to those who are newly diagnosed and looking for answers?
I think everyone has to find their own way but I’d suggest following psoriasis hashtags online and talking with family and friends.
Personally, I’m skeptical of doctors’ advice. I’ve been given creams and steroids in the past which I actually think made things worse. Some doctors thought I had eczema and I just lost faith along the way.
However, if you find one that ‘gets it’ then stick with them! Read as much as you can, try to find what your triggers are, and most of all take care of yourself and give yourself space to heal.
Follow Claire’s journey via her Instagram account where she shares Psoriasis Friendly Vegan Recipes @adventures_in_eating_nothing