Losing her dad set off an ugly tangent in her life.
She developed a chronic skin condition known as psoriasis.
Patch by patch, it took over her body.
A couple of years later, her brother also died.
Her skin condition worsened.
As she went through grief, she felt alone for so long, sailing unchartered seas.
Weekly reflective Bible study sessions became an outlet for the suppressed energies.
For Muthoni Mwangi, this toned her spirit just as exercise conditions the body.
Grieving loved ones
“We cannot prevent stress but I manage my moments of worry and anxiety by connecting with God” she says.
Muthoni misses her late brother. He was also the one who diagnosed her skin condition and they began walking together for the treatment.
But not for long.
She pays tribute to him.
“When he died,I lost a brother, a friend and an amazing holistic health support system, which psoriasis ambassadors also need to cope. If it wasn’t for him I would have probably undergone the same horror stories of misdiagnosis. Thank you my brother 🤗🤗🤗 Rest in God’s arms,” she fondly remembers him.
What is Psoriasis?
Dermatologist Dr Evanson Kamuri defines psoriasis as a life-long skin disorder that causes dark, or red, scaly patches called lesions to appear on the skin. It affects both sexes equally and can occur at any age. It is also one of the most common skin conditions.
According to Dr Kamuri who is also a consultant dermatologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, the cause of psoriasis is unknown though in persons with psoriasis their immune system is mistakenly triggered, which speeds up growth cycle of the skin cells.
“As a life-long skin disorder, it can be painful and disfiguring. It affects the scalp, nails, joints and private parts and causes dark, or red, scaly patches on the skin, ” Dr Kamuri notes.
It can occur at any age including in children, and it can also be triggered by a life-changing event in adulthood, Dr Kamuri adds.
For Muthoni, the skin condition has affected her scalp, hands, nails and legs.
Stress as a result of losing her loved ones was the main trigger that caused her skin condition.
What is the connection between stress and triggering psoriasis?
According to Rousset L and Halioua B in paper published in PubMed in 2018, there is a reported higher incidence of psoriasis in persons who have had a stressful event the previous year, suggesting that stress may have a role in triggering the disease in predisposed individuals.
In his paper, Rousset notes that several controlled studies have demonstrated that relaxation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and behavioral and cognitive stress management therapies have been effective in people with psoriasis.
Psoriasis and support groups
Her first line of support is having a hairdresser who understands her skin condition.
She has remained faithful to her hairdresser for years due to her non-judgmental approach.
“My hairdresser knows that psoriasis is not contagious. When I don’t have coconut or olive oil the team goes an extra mile to give me my well-deserved memorable salon experience to moisturize my hair and skin because of the dryness and flakes and for that I’m grateful. Thank you Dave, Omar and Kalekye,” she says.
Muthoni also appreciates the role of patient support groups which have connected her to amazing peers.
She is a member of Psoriasis Association of Kenya that comprises persons with the skin condition, their loved ones and health experts.
“It is great to have a support group. Pray about it because you need to distinguish between people who will genuinely support you and love you the way you are or people who are with you to share your story.,” she says.
She shares a few more gems on linking up with persons dealing with psoriasis.
“We are there for each other through thick and thin about everything in life. I learnt about confidence, self-esteem and self-acceptance from them and those lessons are very crucial when you have five spots or the spots have spread,” adds.
She takes another minute to appreciate psoriasis champions who are managing different types of the skin conditions.
“Thank you Tina, Hellen and Nyawira. God bless you abundantly!!! You are truly amazing Psoriasis Ambassadors because you gave me the hope I needed to keep going on and enjoy life,” she says.
According to the World Health Organisation, persons with psoriasis have a relatively higher risks of heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes.
Socially, psoriasis can also affect romantic relationships when full disclosure is ignored.
“Disclosure is important because it sets the base for honesty in the relationship,” Muthoni notes.
According to Dr Kamuri, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, the available forms of treatment available include;
- Topical treatments like medicated creams, ointments and lotions
- Phototherapy-a form of therapy that uses lights
- Systemic medications- pills or injection used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis
Other complimentary sessions Muthoni to manage psoriasis better include physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.
“A session of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy is helpful as the warm water helps alleviate the joint pain to facilitate ease of movement,” she says.
Muthoni estimates the monthly cost of treatment to be about Sh 12,000 per month as an outpatient.
For women with psoriasis, it is prudent to note that some of the medicines that manage psoriasis are contraindicated for women who want to conceive. “Drugs such as methotrexate should be weaned off before trying to conceive , “ she says.
To manage the stress, she maintains a small and neat circle of friends.
“To promote the healing process, I have learnt the hard way to keep away from negativity and toxic spaces, people and cycles because it aggravates stress and worsens psoriasis,” she says.
“As friends, we have to come to a place where we achieve peace of mind and align every aspect of our lives that keep us alive and happy,” she added.
Muthoni makes a clarion call on adopting a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
“It is important to live a healthy holistic life. Be at peace spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Eat well, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, sleep well, focus on what you’re passionate about in life and do anything and everything necessary to keep stress away as it’s the main trigger,” she concluded.
If you would like to get in touch with muthoni, you can reach her on Muthonimwangi21@gmail.com. Please indicate the reference as ‘Psoriasis’