Sickness, Strep, and Psoriasis

This winter was a hard one for our family; I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that we were unhealthy for about half the winter. We were either just coming down with something, completely sick, or recovering, with the rest of the time being completely healthy (though probably tired).

A few weeks ago my throat got sore, and a couple of days later I saw white spots on my tonsils. While I immediately thought “oh no, strep throat,” I decided to do a little research online and discovered there are 6 or 7 things that can cause white spots, with only one of them being strep. A visit to the doctor, a swab of my throat, and a few days later they confirmed it was strep throat (the doctor actually didn’t think it would be). They prescribe anti-biotics for strep, otherwise it can turn into a few nasty things, like scarlet fever (which doesn’t sound like fun at all – fuschia fever would be WAY better). So I took my 3 pills a day for 7 days, ending last Thursday (Kat also caught strep, but Brody didn’t). I felt awesome on Thursday, probably better than I have in awhile. But…

So, Friday comes, and I’m still feeling great, but around lunch I noticed I had some weird red spots on my arm. Then I noticed I had weird red spots on my stomach. Then I went online to search for what it could be. Red spots can be a side effect of taking Amoxicillin, the drug anti-biotics I was on for the strep throat. It results in little red marks about 1mm in diameter. I went to the walk-in-clinic and the doctor confirmed that’s what it was, and suggested I take something like Reactin, or Claritin, because it would reduce the inflammation. A few days later it hadn’t gotten any better, only worse, so I called up my friendly dermatologist and made an appointment to see him.

So, I’ve covered two of the three things mentioned in the title of the blog post, so it’s time to introduce the third. I have psoriasis, which you may, or may not, have heard before (if you haven’t heard of it, the P is a silent one – it’s only there to appear cool, which it isn’t). Psoriasis is a skin disorder which results in the skin growing faster than normal, often flaking off. There are different kinds of it, and I’ve had it since I was a kid (8… 9… 10?). It’s been a mild nuisance in the past, but it’s really not something I think about much at all. Most of my psoriasis is on my scalp (treated with lotion), with a couple of patches on my body, or my arms and legs over the years. Some people get it really, really bad, with large patches appearing all over their body. There’s no cure for it, though people are always working to find one. It’s also something you’re born with; you can’t catch psoriasis.

So today was my appointment with my dermatologist, and beforehand I did some more searches online, hoping to find out some more information. I had noticed that my few spots of psoriasis had flared up a bit after I had stopped taking my anti-biotics, and I hoped that it was just a coincidence, as the weather can also cause flare ups, and the weather in Edmonton has been changing recently (goodbye winter!!). Well, my dermatologist confirmed some of what I had read online today – strep throat can cause “guttate psoriasis.” This is different from “normal” psoriasis (often called “plaque psoriasis”), and can appear quite suddenly, without any warning at all. It appears like little droplets on the body, almost as though someone picked up a paintbrush with red paint and flicked it on you. The good news is that unlike plaque psoriasis, when it’s gone, it’s likely gone for good (though there’s always the chance of it flaring up again down the road), but the bad news is that it can take months to go away. I’ll also have to go for light treatments (like tanning, but only for a minute or so at a time) 3 times a week, plus use creams and other crap. I’m also repulsed by it, which is awesome considering it’s my body. Oh, and it’s itchy. I purposely didn’t embed a photo, but if you want to see a small area (my right arm) with the psoriasis, you can click here. Nasty, right?

I’m not posting this looking for sympathy, but to educate others on psoriasis. You’ve probably come across someone with a rash on their arm, or leg, or maybe someone who has a bunch of spots that look like chicken pox; that could be psoriasis. I’ve been lucky so far in my life that mine has never really been very noticeable, but my luck ran out, and now it’s all over my body. Hopefully not for long.

Also, if you’re in the Edmonton area and need a good dermatologist, Stratica Medical (downtown, on 117 st, just North of Jasper Ave) is awesome.

P.S. Wow, first blog post in over a year!

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