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Lighting the way

Head ReLife aesthetics, Ireland, Fergus Gallagher shares how combining the U-LIFE range of products with light treatment works for him and his skin.

Head ReLife aesthetics, Ireland, Fergus Gallagher shares how combining the U-LIFE range of products with light treatment works for him and his skin.

Blowing the whistle on painful skin condition

Head ReLife aesthetics, Ireland, Fergus Gallagher shares how combining the U-LIFE range of products with light treatment works for him and his skin.

I have guttate psoriasis all over my body, face to toe. It presents like little spots that get bigger, then dry up and become very irritated and itchy. A sore throat or cough might trigger it, it’s genetically part of you, lying dormant. It first presented when I was 16 and I got a fairly bad flare-up. I was back and forth to different dermatologists who put me on steroids, tars and emollients. I wasn’t very compliant because I was a bit younger and never really got the condition under control. 

During those years I tried everything, from seaweed baths to the holistic approach with creams made from natural ingredients, I tried all the different dietary things, and none of them really worked. You might get a minor response and think you were on to something and then it would flare up.

This went on until my late twenties. A friend of mine, who is a doctor, recommended a dermatologist in Dun Laoghaire. He was very straight talking and said, ‘the bottom line is, you are never going to cure it, it’s something that you live with. We can manage it and get it better, but you have to do what I tell you.’

I was using a lot of steroid at the time and my psoriasis was flaring very badly. He said that the flare was because I had over-used the steroid. He told me that they are really good for psoriasis and eczema but to a point, and when you over-use them, you can often get a steroid-induced flare which makes your psoriasis worse than it ever was. It’s because you have been suppressing your psoriasis with the steroid and it bites back and gives you a massive flare-up. 

There are two routes when you are chronic or severe: the first is light therapy, which is where you go into hospital three times a week and it takes a couple of minutes. It’s invasive in terms of time and commitment. The other route is using an immunosuppressant and my dermatologist was never in favour of that until we absolutely had to. 

Light treatment, while there is a small risk of UV light-induced tumours, it’s very very low. There is a slightly higher risk with immunosuppressants of different things, for example, anyone who is immunosuppressed for psoriasis is in a compromised category because of Covid-19. 

We embarked upon light treatment and he said that, while the light will do the work, the emollient will help with the dry and scaly skin associated with psoriasis and help the treatment to work well. The treatment goes on for about three months but when you are finished, your skin is completely clear.

When I finished light treatment, he made it really clear that it was important to continually moisturise the skin so that the flare-up doesn’t come back. Dry skin can help to induce a flare; often a flare is induced by stress and that’s a big trigger of mine. He put to bed the idea that it was anything to do with my eating habits. He recommended losing a bit of weight around the belly because they know that there is a link to gut fat and your immune system overreacting and psoriasis can be worse if you carry a lot of gut fat.

I started that in my early thirties and I'm now 42. I’m currently doing my fourth bout of light treatment, it works unbelievably well for me. The first time I had it I got a full year clear of psoriasis out of it, the relief is amazing. 

In tandem with the light treatment, we focused on using a really good emollient and moving away from a steroid completely. I used a recommended emollient and a light tar-based product on my torso. On my face, I used a medicated ointment and an emollient. You become very picky about your emollient, a lot of them are quite sticky and if you want to put on a shirt and suit every day, you have to wait four or five minutes for it to dry. Even at that, your skin feels slightly sticky.

The second bout of light treatment I got a bit longer, a year and two months, and at the last treatment, I began using U-Life 10 moisturising body cream. Straightaway I knew I really liked it. It’s really easy to rub on, it dries really quickly and it doesn’t leave any oily stickiness. The urea is particularly good for dry skin associated with psoriasis in terms of retaining moisture, it worked really well. I ran out of it recently and used another urea-based product which I thought would be a match and it was just so sticky, you couldn’t put a shirt on after it. 

I got two years and two months out of my last light treatment and I'm pretty convinced that it was to do with using the U-Life products. It didn’t stop the psoriasis coming but it definitely kept my skin clearer for much longer.

I use the U-Life 10 moisturising body cream for dry skin, and when I have spots that are particularly dry, I use the U-Life 20 moisturising body cream for very dry and rough skin and I find it does a really good job of killing the dryness and itchy feeling so you don’t have sleepless nights which I would have been heading into before more light treatment. I use the U-Life 5 moisturising smoothing face cream on my face along with a medicated ointment. 

I use a tar-based scalp product every three months for about a week and it’s quite a repulsive smell. My hair is short so I can use the U-Life 10 moisturising body cream for dry skin in my hair and it looks like a gel, and I haven't had to use the tar at all in the last eight or nine months. I have also used the U-Life 10 moisturising smoothing ecofoam and it’s really easy to get through the hair to the scalp.

The fact that it is fragrance-free is very important. Often I have looked for a face cream in a pharmacy and if they didn’t have the brand I was looking for, they’d recommend something with a cosmetic scent. The minute I smell it, I think, ‘I’m not putting that anywhere near my skin.’ 

Someone with psoriasis is never going to manage their condition with emollients only but it's definitely important and a great addition to any first-line therapy your doctor recommends.

U-Life 10
A moisturising body cream suitable for dry skin

U-Life 10
A moisturising body cream suitable for dry skin