My Plaque Psoriasis Journey: How I Achieved Clearer Skin and Found My Confidence

Sponsor Content Created With VTAMA (tapinarof) cream, 1%

No matter if you’re a celebrity, influencer, or beauty editor, we all have days when we feel insecure about our skin. But when you have plaque psoriasis—an inflammatory condition that causes the skin to form red, scaly spots called plaques—it can affect your confidence on a daily basis. “I didn’t feel like I was in my own skin anymore,” explains Michelle Lee, an L.A.-based influencer who has plaque psoriasis. “Everyone always talks about how plaque psoriasis looks, but we always forget to talk about how it feels.” Lee’s journey with the disease has been filled with ups and downs, but she’s learned how to shift her mindset and added a different product to her routine (thanks, VTAMA (tapinarof) cream, 1%) that's improved her plaque psoriasis, and because of that improvement, she’s feeling more confident and beautiful than ever.

Dermavant Michelle Lee

Photo taken prior to treatment initiation with VTAMA cream

(Image credit: @ohmichellelee)

Can you tell us about your journey with plaque psoriasis?

It all started one day back in 2018 when I noticed three small dots on my calves. I didn’t think anything of it. But then, out of nowhere, the three dots turned into itchy, scaly spots all over my body. Thinking back, it probably happened more gradually, but it felt like it was an overnight thing. My clothes didn’t feel good when they rubbed on my skin, but I layered them on because I didn’t want anyone (including myself!) to see my skin. Thinking this was an allergic reaction, I went to the ER and was prescribed a cream and was told I’d be fine, but it didn’t give me the results I was looking for. I then went to a dermatology healthcare provider, who prescribed me a different tube of cream, and that also didn’t give me the results I was looking for. I finally went to a third dermatology healthcare provider who did a biopsy of my skin and confirmed I had plaque psoriasis. I was grateful to have an answer but struggled to accept this new reality—not just because there’s no cure, but for me, as a Korean American woman, having beautiful, clear skin is everything. Something a lot of people don’t know, too, is that I also have an identical twin sister. I would stand next to her and compare myself to her, wondering what happened to me and why I was different. I just was heartbroken—it was an excruciating time for me.

How has plaque psoriasis affected your mental health?

The beginning was definitely the hardest. I stopped going out. I stopped meeting friends. I hated myself. But then I realized that when I would sit in my room and think that everyone hated me, that was the reality I was creating. But when I learned to love myself again—plaque psoriasis and all—that’s when things started to turn around.

Could you describe your journey to rebuilding your confidence and self-love?

I first stopped comparing myself to others and got comfortable in my own skin—and got comfortable with being naked, too. Every day, I prioritize activities like yoga, meditation, and walks outside because it helps me relax my mind if any self-loathing thoughts come in. I also tried to switch the narrative on the disease. So instead of hiding my skin, I took photos of myself, I got to know my angles, and I truly believe that I’m still beautiful with or without plaque psoriasis. I also find a lot of comfort in the online plaque psoriasis community because it reminds me that I’m not alone on this journey.

What’s your skincare routine like? What products have made a difference?

I love keeping a simple, effective skincare routine. In the morning, I wash my face and put on a gentle toner. At night, I use my prescription VTAMA cream, used for the topical treatment of adults with plaque psoriasis, to spot treat plaque psoriasis flare-ups, which happen occasionally. I’ve seen results in as little as a month with continuous improvement at 12 weeks. The itch and appearance of the plaques improve, which is a sign it’s working.

Can you tell me more about the cream? What’s special about it?

It is a steroid-free prescription cream that I can use long-term, like in clinical trials that were a year long. It is easy to apply, non-greasy, absorbs quickly, and is safe to use in sensitive skin areas. You can apply it to any part of your body with plaques, including your private areas, face, and scalp as long as you don’t apply or use it in your eyes, mouth, or vaginally.

What advice can you offer anyone who’s dealing with plaque psoriasis?

First, go through the emotions of feeling upset. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and scared. Then, accept your reality. Once you accept that this condition will be a part of you, that’s when the real work of building self-love and confidence can begin. Get to know your spots, and love them anyway. When you believe that you’re still beautiful, your beauty radiates outward. And something I always tell people is to talk to their doctor about finding treatment options that are right for their skin.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Indication: VTAMA® (tapinarof) cream, 1% is an aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonist indicated for the topical treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults. Adverse Events: The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 1%) in subjects treated with VTAMA cream were folliculitis (red raised bumps around the hair pores), nasopharyngitis (pain or swelling in the nose and throat), contact dermatitis (skin rash or irritation, including itching and redness, peeling, burning, or stinging), headache, pruritus (itching), and influenza (flu). 

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See full Prescribing Information and Patient Information.

VTAMA is a registered trademark of Dermavant Sciences, GmbH.

Emma Walsh
Associate Beauty Editor, Branded Content

Emma is an associate beauty editor of branded content. She’s a passionate writer who loves all things beauty, wellness, and personal growth. Before pursuing writing, she worked in influencer marketing at Gallery Media Group, which owns digital brand PureWow. She lives in New York City, where you can usually find her running to a Pilates class or sipping on a green juice in the park.