(BPT) – By Sarah H., Living With Psoriasis
For most people, summer means warm weather, blossoming trees, and vacation. But as a young college student living with psoriasis, it brings on a whole different set of experiences and challenges. Even though it affects approximately 7.5 million Americans, many people do not know what psoriasis is.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and itching of the skin, and is usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. So for me, warmer weather, short sleeves, and light dresses means my skin is more exposed than during the winter when I am buried under layers.
Psoriasis is a disease that causes an overproduction of cells that appear on the skin’s surface. These cells form thick scales on the skin, which can be dry, cracked, and red – and can be itchy and painful. Psoriasis doesn’t just “go away” – it is a chronic skin condition.
Although there isn’t a cure for psoriasis, I have learned from my doctor that there are many ways to manage the skin symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments may also offer some relief, such as maintaining a healthy weight, minimizing stress, and following a healthy diet.
In addition to making lifestyle changes, I’ve always worked closely with my doctor to find a treatment plan that works for me. Over the years, I’ve tried different medications, but never stuck to them for one reason or another. Eventually, my doctor and I decided I try Otezla® (apremilast; 30 mg tablets), a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for whom phototherapy or systemic therapy is appropriate. Otezla is a pill – not a cream or an injection. Otezla was something that could fit into my daily routine. Based on my medical history, my doctor told me that the Prescribing Information for Otezla had no requirement for routine lab monitoring. As a busy college student, this was helpful!
My doctor also made it clear that it may take some time to see if Otezla works for me. After four months, I saw an improvement in my plaque psoriasis symptoms and was glad that we decided to try Otezla.
Otezla may not work for everyone. Before I started taking Otezla, my doctor had also discussed with me potential side effects. According to my doctor, people who are allergic to any of its components should not take Otezla. Otezla is associated with serious side effects like depression, weight decrease, and interacting with other medicines that can make Otezla less effective. The most common side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache. My doctor also told me to read additional information in a brochure I received about Otezla, which also had the Important Safety Information and Full Prescribing Information for Otezla.
While my psoriasis certainly presents me with challenges, I do my best not to let it keep me from doing the things that I love. My advice for others living with plaque psoriasis is to educate yourself about the disease and work with a doctor to develop a management plan that works for you. Summer is a welcomed time, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it!
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
You must not take Otezla if you are allergic to apremilast or to any of the ingredients in Otezla.
Otezla is associated with an increase in adverse reactions of depression. In clinical studies, some patients reported depression and suicidal behavior while taking Otezla. Some patients stopped taking Otezla due to depression. Before starting Otezla, tell your doctor if you have had feelings of depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal behavior. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of these symptoms or other mood changes develop or worsen during treatment with Otezla.
Some patients taking Otezla lost body weight. Your doctor should monitor your weight regularly. If unexplained or significant weight loss occurs, your doctor will decide if you should continue taking Otezla.
Some medicines may make Otezla less effective, and should not be taken with Otezla. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines.
Side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache.
These are not all the possible side effects with Otezla. Ask your doctor about other potential side effects. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or planning to breastfeed. Otezla has not been studied in pregnant women or in women who are breastfeeding.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-332-1088.
Please click here for Full Prescribing Information.
Otezla® is a registered trademark of Celgene Corporation.
© 2016 Celgene Corporation 08/16 USII-APR160044(1)