Why it’s important to be open about psoriasisIf you’ve ever felt embarrassed by your psoriasis, you’re not alone. In fact, many people with psoriasis feel self-conscious about their condition. These worries are very common, so it’s important to consider how you might manage them and ensure they don’t interfere with your quality of life.
It’s perfectly natural to feel insecureUnfortunately, feelings of insecurity and embarrassment may lead people to try and keep their psoriasis secret. Though understandable, this can make you feel stressed and perhaps even stop you from doing things you enjoy.
Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious (such as swimming or shaking hands) might seem to be a sensible approach, but the benefits may be short-lived. Instead of easing distress, avoidance is likely to increase your worries about your appearance and that can lead to more anxiety.
Hiding your psoriasis has physical considerations too. You may be uncomfortable in the hot summer if you always cover up your psoriasis with long sleeves, trousers and scarves. Additionally, if you do cover up, your skin will receive less sun exposure, which, in moderate doses, may actually be good for psoriasis.
Stay connectedIt’s therefore important to get the emotional support you need and stay connected with those around you. Remember that psoriasis is nothing to be ashamed of, so try to keep it in perspective. After all, there are very few people who are completely happy with their body, or who don’t know what it’s like to feel embarrassed or insecure sometimes. So take a deep breath and let people close to you know about your psoriasis – you may be pleasantly surprised by the positive response you get.
If you do decide to discuss your psoriasis with others, here are some common situations and some tips on how to handle them:
One issue you may face is people not understanding psoriasis and what exactly it is. Some people may even be concerned that they could catch it, so reassure them that this isn’t the case and then explain the condition as simply as you can.
For example, you could say: “You may know that skin usually renews itself every three or four weeks. What’s happening with me is that my skin is working too fast. It’s renewing itself every three or four days and the new skin cells haven’t had time to develop properly. That’s why it’s all sore and flaky.”
Psoriasis is nothing to be ashamed of and, if you do tell people, the chances are they’ll be understanding and supportive.
Talking to your partner about psoriasisNo matter how close you are to somebody, it can still be hard for your partner to know exactly what you’re going through. It is vital, though, that you are able to explain your needs so that your partner can feel ‘useful’ in helping you to manage your psoriasis effectively; this will also keep misunderstandings at bay and your relationship on track.
Getting family supportPsoriasis doesn’t have to spoil family life. By being open about your condition, your family will understand and appreciate your feelings if you want to miss an activity, or if you need extra time and help to apply your medication properly, and will be able to support you.
Explaining your psoriasis to colleaguesPsoriasis can have an impact on your work as you may need time off for doctor’s appointments or to deal with flare-ups, and you could also be feeling low when your psoriasis is particularly bad. Educating colleagues about your condition will help them to understand more about psoriasis, enabling them to support you better and help you perform well at work.
A wider support networkPsoriasis is nothing to be ashamed of and, if you do tell people, the chances are they’ll be understanding and supportive. While it might not be easy, it may help to keep it in perspective. Very few people are completely happy with their bodies and everyone knows what it feels like to be embarrassed or insecure at some time. Being open about your psoriasis brings huge benefits, such as having a wider support network, understanding colleagues and also a better quality of life at home. Don’t suffer in silence! Take advice from your doctor and ensure you are getting the best support to help you cope.
UK/IE 2013b/00074, Date of prep: April 2015