Why it’s important to be open about psoriasisIf you’ve ever felt embarrassed by your psoriasis, you’re not alone. In fact, in a recent survey, 73% of people with psoriasis reported that they felt self-conscious about their condition. Feeling embarrassed and self-conscious is very common, so it’s important to be able to cope with these feelings so that they don’t affect your quality of life.
It’s perfectly natural to uncomfortableUnfortunately, feelings of insecurity and embarrassment may lead people to try and keep their psoriasis secret. Though understandable, this can be emotionally draining.
Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious (such as swimming or shaking hands) might seem to be a sensible strategy 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. If you always cover up your psoriasis with long sleeves, trousers and scarves, you’re likely to not only be uncomfortably hot in the summer but your skin will have less exposure to sunlight which, in moderate doses, may actually be good for psoriasis.
Stay connectedIt’s important to get the emotional support you need and stay connected to those around you, rather than trying to manage the condition all on your own. While it may be difficult to speak about it at first, you may find that being open about your psoriasis with friends, family, colleagues and your employer brings real benefits – like a much wider support network, understanding colleagues and better quality of life at home.
If you do decide to discuss your psoriasis with others, here are some common situations and some tips on how to handle them:
Overcoming misunderstandingsOne issue you may face is people not understanding psoriasis. 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 is living tissue, and 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. Though it may be difficult to open up, getting understanding from your partner can be very helpful in managing your condition effectively. It can even make your partner feel better about themselves if you let them know how they can offer you practical and/or emotional support.
Getting family supportPsoriasis can sometimes put a strain on family life. There might be extra demands placed on family members, such as helping you apply topical medications. Or family fun time might be affected if you feel the need to avoid public places like swimming pools. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to spoil family life. By being open about your condition, you will put family members in a better position to give the support you need.
Explaining your psoriasis to colleaguesPsoriasis could impact working life in a number of ways, from dealing with co-workers’ curiosity about plaques, to being absent from work due to flare-ups or emotional distress. So it’s a good idea to consider how you’ll deal with any potential problems and educate colleagues about your condition.
Once you’ve taken the decision to tell them, think carefully about what you do and don’t want to say. As a general rule, it’s best to use simple language. Highlight that you are managing the condition, that it is not contagious, and that it does not affect your commitment to your 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.
Who you tell is entirely your decision but you may be pleasantly surprised by the positive responses you get.