Dealing with Psoriasis – Medical in Confidence?



I have been asked to help with a NHS video about Psoriasis from my friends at Doctor Gray’s hospital in Elgin. I have been unfortunate to have had this awful skin disease since I was 19. It can be a terrible and fairly unknown disease that the general public know little about. I was going to do a piece on my blog about it to try to spread the word, this has hastened it and it may help others. To many Psoriasis is a disease that few know about or understand and can be a huge blow especially for a young person.

Few who read this will know I have psoriasis yet I spent 37 years in the military. I have been hospitalised three times for several weeks at a time when they had a Skin Ward at Raigmore Hospital near Inverness in the early 70’s. These days it was a very basic treatment covered in  a tar products it was very hard and upsetting for a young guy.  The RAF Doctors had very little clue how to deal with it and many treatments and ointments made the raw skin a lot worse.. The initial signs for me were a red skin rash on my head,legs arms and trunk that got worse and worse, soon about 40% of my body was covered. I was very active at this time with the RAF Mountain rescue and playing football and other sports the rash got raw after a day of heavy physical activity and actually bled with the constant rubbing of clothes. It became pretty obvious and I got a few cutting comments did I have “Scabies” is it contagious? Eventually I was sent to Raigmore Hospital and the three weeks were one of constant treatment with tar products, which ruined any clothes you had.    The nurses were great and they had to administer some of the creams, it was a hard job but seeing many others a lot worse than me made me accept it was life. There were increased bouts of it and it was always worse after a winter and meant that there were few summers I could wear shorts and light clothing. I was very embarrassed about my skin and my appearance and the best way for me to cope was to cover it up, not easy in the hot weather. Sun can be a great help with the disease and wearing clothes made you sweat and it became a long battle every year. Treatment of  my condition was very hard trying to get some where private to apply creams especially when away most weekends with the Mountain Rescue in village halls or tents.  Most of the team accepted it and I got used to educating them about my condition. Psoriasis can be hereditary but  no one in my family had it but I have worked out that it can be effected by stress and one thing for me is trauma, especially after an upsetting Air crash or

Covered up on a big hil day !

Covered up on a big hil day !

Mountain  Rescue Call – Out. Also if I get an illness or sick then it can explode and the process begins again.

I was very lucky as all my girlfriends accepted Psoriasis was part of my life but it did put a strain on relationships and even holidays by the sea were dependent on the state of my skin.    I was posted to the Persian Gulf in 1974 for 9 months and the sun definitely helped and it was one of the few times I was free of Psoriasis in my life. It was hard at first as I arrived with the condition fairly flared up and you cannot hide it when wearing shorts? Eventually people accepted it and the sun did it work and cleared my skin.

1973 - the sun in the Persian Gulf helped the skin condition!

1973 – the sun in the Persian Gulf helped the skin condition!

I have had most treatments all my life even taking part in early light treatment in Dundee which made you very susceptible to light as you were given a tablet before treatment. This made you very effected to the sun for 24 hours, not easy if I had a Mountain Rescue Call out after treatment. I have tried all types of creams but the light treatment nowadays is very effective if time-consuming. It is very hard to get a place and this treatment takes several months usually going three times a week and building up from a few seconds to minutes all controlled by the nurses. Treatment has become better but the waiting list is long for the UV treatment. Today I have the time to look after my skin a bit better and keeping the areas moisturizered and treating the areas as they  occur with modern creams, unfortunately some include steroids and must be used sparingly. I find alcohol does not help and eating well and getting some sun after a long winter always helps. It is not life threatening but can make life hard for many, after 40 years I can cope and if you or a relative have Psoriasis maybe this will help? It is great when it clears and you can go about in shorts, swim again and wear light clothes, simple things but such a great feeling. Do not be afraid to talk about it to friends and most are fine about it and many have this condition. Get professional help see a dermatologist when you can and hopefully one day there may be a solution to this awful disease?   This is an email that I got after my bit for filming yesterday.

“Many thanks for coming along to filming this morning; your participation in our project is very much appreciated!


The videos will eventually (after editing and content checks) appear on the ‘A Better Plan’ website (  A Better Plan, accessible on any internet connected device, allows you to create a confidential, personalised healthcare record.  A whole range of information and measurements can be inputted and can be shared, if the patient wishes, with friends, family or health professionals.  The UK Government is backing A Better Plan and whilst it is currently only being trialled in a select few regions, it is hoped that the product will eventually be rolled out across the UK.


I hope that you will register for A Better Plan as we are keen to get as much feedback on the site as possible (both positive and negative comments welcome and can be emailed to myself).


Feel free to talk about A Better Plan on your blog!  It would be useful though if you could let me know how many people (approximately) visit your blog on a monthly basis as I am required to record how many people could potentially hear about A Better Plan. “

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Friends, medical. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Dealing with Psoriasis – Medical in Confidence?

  1. Ian Rideout says:

    Heavy, well done for speaking out about this debilitating condition. Like so many of these so called ‘taboos’ it needs courageous folk to openly talk about them in order that we can educate others. We have psoriasis in our family and have seen so many treatments come and go, lotions, potions alternative methods etc. but in the end relaxation and sunshine does seem to help. Personally, I have escaped the psoriasis but had excema for most of my adult life to a lesser or greater extent and know of the embarassment and need to cover up. When I was younger it prevented me from swimming in public pools because people thought it was contagious. There is for me a definite connection between excema and stress levels.


  2. Tom Docherty says:

    Hi Heavy,

    It is interesting that the sun help the condition. I agree that it is often stress related. My father suffered from it and had a very stressful relationship with my mother before they divorced. His condition only seemed to improve during out two week annual holiday on the sunny Moray coast and worsened again afterward. Like Ian mentions my dad tired all of the lotions and potions but the sun seemed to help most. None of my siblings nor I have psoriasis but I and some of my children have exzema to varying degrees. I find that the sun helps that too. Good article mate and hopefully more people will understand the condition.


  3. heavywhalley says:

    Again thanks Tom – top guy!#


  4. Tom Docherty says:

    I know my dad found it hard to uncover in public and when on holiday we always looked for a quiet spot in the dunes where he could do so and not be stared at by passers by. I think it bothered him that some might think he was some sort of freak or highly contagious. We kids just accepted him as he was.


  5. Tom Docherty says:

    I have reblogged this to my blog (Propwash) Heavy. More people need to see this.


  6. Chris Upson says:

    I was fascinated to read your account of living with psoriasis. It’s impossible for people with clear skin to understand how psoriasis can shape your life experiences. At age 7 in 1970, I had an immune system breakdown that triggered an outbreak of septic psoriasis that put me in hospital for 5 months. For 5 months I never wore outdoor clothes or went home, but was subjected to the Victorian daily ritual of tar bathes, and being smothered with disgusting smelly tar-based ointments that did no good whatsoever. My adolescence and university years were largely ruined by being cripplingly self-conscious about the hideous state of my skin. I wouldn’t take part in any sport, or go to social events. My first major breakthrough was when I went to the Dead Sea in Israel in 1982. I had about 98% coverage with psoriasis, and left 4 weeks later with 0%. I think it wasn’t just the sun, and the salt water, it was also mixing with other people with psoriasis, so I no longer felt like a freak. I’m quite aware that stress and alcohol are probably the 2 worst things, but also the long dark Scottish winters.
    Once again, thanks for posting your thoughts.


    • heavywhalley says:


      Many thanks for you reply – great to hear from you and how you coped I have received so many incredible replies from good friends.

      It all helps others understand what we have to live with!

      Regards Heavy


  7. Mark Dale says:

    Hi Heavy,
    I have aprreciated reading this blog and it helps people withis awful condition realise that you are not alone. My psoriasis covers a large part of my body and have had this problem for just over 40 years. I normally wear longsleeved shirts and trousers to cover the patches. My problem is that my psoriasis is on my hands and is now spreading to my face (rare occurance). Having lived most of my life in societies where daily hand shaking is a steadfast custom, it has been extremmely embarressing looking at the trepidation (sometimes horror) of people who I meet and greet. I have a tendancy to fold my arms to hide my hands in daily meetings. I apply copius amount of moisturisers before attending these meetings. I am conscious of my psoriasis continually. I manage to live with it, but I am also embaressed by it. Only good can come from this initative and hopefully one day, a cure will be found, Cheers mate.


  8. Nikki Young says:

    A very informative article David! Hopefully this, along with the video you filmed, will increase awareness of psoriasis and educate others so well done and thank you!


  9. Jim Morning says:

    I know you have had this problem for most of your life and how you have managed it and still accomplished so much is remarkable. For the first time that I am aware of you have opened up on, so thanks and I wish I knew more when I was younger and helped more. But we were all different people then and empathy had not been invented then,! 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.