Within the past five months, I have been on three different biologics to treat psoriasis.
As if 2020 wasn’t enough stress, there was a physical and emotional swirl trying to manage through the pain and discomfort of the new psoriasis spots, accepting and understanding a new psoriatic arthritis diagnosis, and figuring it all out during a time when I lost my insurance. When reading, please keep in mind that this is my personal journey with these medications and effectiveness varies by person. Please talk to your doctor to determine what course of action is best for you to treat psoriasis.
Biologics are medicines made from living cells. The cells are genetically changed in the lab to make certain proteins. Unlike drugs that work on your whole immune system, biologics block only the parts that are responsible for the overgrowth of skin cells. You have to take these drugs as a shot or an infusion through an IV. That bypasses your stomach, where acids would eat up the protein in the drugs and stop them from working.*
For over two years I was successful with Humira shots.
By the end of summer 2020, Humira was starting to fail.
I was starting to get more and more spots on my legs, stomach, and back every day. My biggest source of panic was the achy joints in my fingers when I woke up in the morning. I was officially diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in September 2020. It was five days before my 38th birthday and 22 years after my initial psoriasis diagnosis. Based on my new diagnosis and flare, my doctor recommended that I switch from Humira to a different biologic.
This was the second time that I had been on Humira to treat psoriasis. The first time was about 10 years ago. I had only stopped because I started family planning. In total, I was successful on Humira for about 6 years. It had always been so trustworthy so I was disappointed that it was failing. Plus I had a new diagnosis to worry about. I was really concerned that if I didn’t start treating the PsA right away, that I’d have bigger joint issues later in life. I plan to live until 102 and will be one of those active grannies in velour tracksuits, so this new diagnosis can’t get in the way of that.
I started on Taltz shots in early October 2020.
My last shot was on January 2, 2021. I had high hopes because friends from the psoriasis community loved the results they got from Taltz to treat psoriasis and joint pain. Unfortunately, it failed miserably for me. My skin rapidly got worse in those short few months and I am dealing with one of my worst flares in years. I have guttate psoriasis so I get small spots all over my body. This flare is appearing on my face, chest, stomach, back, legs, and arms. The itch and soreness is constant and makes me crabby.
Even though I’ve been flaring for a few months, I had to wait to go back to the dermatologist. I chose to put a hold on my career in 2020 because I needed to focus all of my energy on my girls who are still home from school. For months, we tried to have two adults working 10+ hours, while actively taking care of a 3 and 5 year old. It was absolute chaos and everyone’s mental health was rapidly declining. My husband owns his business, so everyone was on my health insurance and we lost it at the end of October. Lots of stressful back and forth, but we have new insurance that started on Jan. 1st. I was finally able to get back to the dermatologist on Jan. 4th.
This week I got my first shot of Tremfya.
Lucky for me, my doctor had some in stock and I was able to get my first shot right away in the office. The shot stings a little bit – nothing like the kick in the ass sting from Taltz but more than the sting-free Humira. The Tremfya shot will taken every 4 weeks for the starter doses, and then every 8 weeks afterwards. Tremfya is taken less frequently than both Humira and Taltz. This is good news for me because I can be delinquent with my injections. I am still waiting on formal approval from insurance about my next dose. I have my fingers crossed and am prepared to make a lot of phone calls if necessary. After only a few days, I am noticing that the spots are not as red and sore. They are more dry and scaly but I have high hopes!
Reminder, my journey is different than yours and medication sometimes works different for all of us. Research and talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best options to treat psoriasis for you.