October is Psoriasis Awareness Month, a time to recognize the approximately one million Canadians living with psoriasis, the impact of the disease, and how education and support can make a difference. With World Psoriasis Day also approaching (October 29), Allan Dao is sharing his inspirational journey with psoriasis.
Like many teenagers, Allan had big dreams. An avid sports enthusiast, he aspired to play on the Canadian National Rugby team. He also imagined pursuing his passion for food by going to culinary school. Unfortunately, Allan’s dreams were shattered when he learned he had psoriasis, a skin disease that would have a devastating impact on his life in many ways, both physically and emotionally.
Diagnosed with psoriasis at 18 years old, Allan thought the rippling in his thumbnail and the penny-size red spot on his forehead were sports injuries. Pitted nails and a sore ear drove Allan to his doctor who referred him to a dermatologist. Currently 35 years old, he remembers feeling frustrated, confused and scared when he was diagnosed. This was just the beginning.
Within two years, symptoms progressed in a way he never imagined – psoriasis covered his body, and his skin became red, scaly, flaky and itchy. The constant battle of the emotional impact stands out the most for Allan. He became self-conscious about his appearance and felt hurt when people noticed his skin. His social life was non-existing, he never thought about speaking to a girl, and working night jobs was the only way to avoid being noticed. Allan tried many treatment options, but nothing seemed to work. Soon, he felt he was ready to give up, with psoriasis getting the best of him.
With the help of his dermatologist and successful treatment, Allan is 90% clear of psoriasis. He is grateful that the itchiness, pain and redness is gone. He is comfortable with social settings again and enjoys doing the things he loves, like working out. Allan is also planning to enroll in culinary school this year—a dream he is reclaiming. By sharing his story, Allan hopes others will know they are not alone, and that they can become satisfied and reach for their dreams. His advice is to not give up, turn to family and friends, and become aware of the solutions and resources available.
Today, he has the courage to speak at a psoriasis public forum where he will provide attendees with a glimpse into his psoriasis journey and the importance of not giving up. It will be held at the Toronto Western Hospital Auditorium at 399 Bathurst Street on October 22 @ 6:30pm.
Fast Facts About Psoriasis
· Affecting approximately one million Canadians, psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune whole-life disease that manifests mainly in the skin, joints, and associated co-morbidities.
· Signs and symptoms may include: red patches and plaques of skin covered with silvery scales; dry, cracked skin that may bleed; itching, burning or soreness; and thickened, pitted or ridged nails.
· Between 10 and 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, which affects nearly 300,000 people in Canada.
For more information on psoriasis, visit www.livingwellwithpsoriasis.com.