A MUM who battled psoriasis for years has hailed a £4.99 cream as a “miracle cure” for her skin.
Jemma Halden, 30, praised the over-the-counter product, called Cetraben, for clearing her body of its red-raw, itchy patches.
Jemma, who calls herself “Psoriasis Mummy” on Instagram, revealed she had battled psoriasis for several years with no creams or medication making a difference.
The mum-of-one, from Crewe in Cheshire, developed bright pink “tear drop” shaped spots up to one centimetre across her tummy, back limbs, neck, head and scalp and nothing would shift it.
It was only when Jemma’s GP suggested she tried Cetraben, which can be bought in places like Boots, Amazon or Superdrug, that she started getting relief from the condition, which is caused by an over-production of skin cells.
She said: “I’d tried about 20 different treatments – including light therapy – when, in 2015, my doctor suggested I try Cetraben, a cream which costs just £4.99.
“By then, I’d used steroids, moisturisers – everything – and nothing was working.
“Other people in my family suffer with psoriasis in some form and I’ve had it since I was a baby, so, while it sounds cheesy, it’s not an exaggeration to say that when I tried Cetraben and it took the awful itching and pain away, it felt like a miracle and changed my life.”
Jemma admits that her psoriasis can be so agonising that, when her flare ups are at their worst, it can make her irritable and difficult to live with.
The leather trimmer for a car manufacturer said: “My skin feels like it’s on fire. It itches a lot and I have the sense that it is going to crack in two pieces at any moment.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that when I tried Cetraben and it took the awful itching and pain away, it felt like a miracle and changed my life
And Jemma, who has a daughter, Natalia, two-and-a-half, with her street cleaner partner, Joe Hickson, 29, now uses the cream every day to help with her symptoms.
She added: “I use the cream every day, as after washing my hands or bathing, my skin is left bone dry.
“The worst affected areas are my legs, arms, back and scalp. It can be really miserable.
“As other people in my family have it, we were massively concerned that Natalia would, too, and, fortunately, so far, she hasn’t shown any signs.”
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body.
Most people are only affected with small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
It affects around two per cent of the UK population.
Why does it happen?
People with psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells.
Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four weeks, but in psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days.
The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.
It is thought to be a problem with the immune system and can run in families.
How is it treated?
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches.
In most cases, the first treatment used will be a topical treatment, such as vitamin D analogues or topical corticosteroids.
Topical treatments are creams and ointments applied to the skin.
If these aren’t effective, or your condition is more severe, a treatment called phototherapy may be used.
Phototherapy involves exposing your skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.
In severe cases, where the above treatments are ineffective, systemic treatments may be used. These are oral or injected medicines that work throughout the whole body.
Jemma had hoped earlier this year that prescribed systemic drugs that are injected weekly and affect your entire body would banish her psoriasis once and for all.
And while she saw a 70 per cent improvement within the first few months, the side effects – which included daily migraines – were too severe for her to continue.
She said: “The injections were working and my skin improved dramatically, but the drug I was having, called methotrexate, was giving me terrible migraines, so I had to stop taking it after about 18 months.”
She added: “Sadly, my psoriasis came back with a vengeance just two weeks after the injections stopped.”
Growing up, Jemma felt very isolated by her condition, which could provoke cruel comments from other children, who would point and ask what was wrong with her red-raw skin.
She said: “There was one other girl in primary school, but her psoriasis wasn’t half as bad as mine.
“I remember going on holiday to Turkey when I was about six and when I look at photos of that trip, I can see how much my psoriasis improved. So being in the sunshine definitely helps.
“I remember, too, being a teenager and not being able to wear what I liked because I didn’t want to show any skin and because I had to be careful about what fabric I had next to my skin.
“In the winter, wiry wool jumpers particularly irritated it.”
Jemma, who is on another course of injections, this time of Benepali, which is working well, is now keen to talk about psoriasis, to take the stigma out of having it – especially for young people – and to make sufferers aware of effective treatments.
She said: “The nurse who came to show me how to do my injections – which I will be on indefinitely – suggested I should have an Instagram account all about psoriasis, because I’ve had it for such a long time.
“I agreed that my experiences could help others and so I started Psoriasis Mummy on Instagram.”
The name is particularly apt as Jemma is now a mum and she hopes, once she is old enough to read it properly, that it will help her daughter Natalia to understand what the red patches on her skin are.
Jemma added: “Natalia has started asking me why my skin is sore, especially those parts I have to ask her not to touch.
“But it was more difficult when she was younger and would jump on me not realising how much it hurt me.
“Now, as she gets older, she will be able to go on Instagram and read all about what her mummy has wrong and how she is trying to fix it.”
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.