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How To Explain Your Plaque Psoriasis to Others

Posted on July 13, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Manuel Penton, M.D.
Article written by
Anika Brahmbhatt

  • The psychological and social impacts of plaque psoriasis are real, and you are not alone in experiencing them.
  • When talking to others about your plaque psoriasis, be open and honest. Others may appreciate the opportunity to better understand you.
  • You don’t have to engage with people who make rude or ignorant comments about your skin. Continue to put your own mental health first, and stay connected with your support system.

If you have plaque psoriasis, you’ve probably encountered people who misunderstand or have never heard of your skin condition. Explaining your plaque psoriasis to trusted people in your life can have a positive impact on yourself and others. By talking about your experience, you can help people to understand what you’re going through, and also tackle any disrespectful or ignorant comments people might make about your skin.

Living with plaque psoriasis can affect your social life and your relationships with others. While talking about your psoriasis can be helpful, it can also be difficult to initiate conversation on this topic.

A member of MyPsoriasisTeam wrote about their frustrations: “I have tried to explain my psoriasis to some relatives and friends, and I feel like I am wasting my time. They either don’t understand what is going on or they are dismissive.”

You are not obligated to tell anyone about your condition. If people make rude comments about your skin, it’s more a reflection of their character than anything about you. Some people have never heard of plaque psoriasis, and it can be disheartening if they say something that’s inaccurate or judgmental.

If you’re looking for a way to discuss your plaque psoriasis to the people close to you, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Don’t Be Afraid To Share Your Feelings About Plaque Psoriasis

If someone makes comments about your plaque psoriasis, let them know if their comments affect you. Do they make you feel dismissed, upset, embarrassed, or frustrated?

Unfortunately, some people will say things without thinking about how others feel, and this isn’t something you can control. It’s important to let people know when they’ve hurt your feelings. It’s also important to let people know if they’ve said something inaccurate or made assumptions about the condition.

If someone seems open to listening and having a conversation, you could try explaining some details about plaque psoriasis symptoms, causes, and treatments. Be objective, and explain how psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects the immune system and causes inflammation. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, and it results in thick, scaly, inflamed patches of skin, often with silvery scales.

You could shed some light on how common psoriasis is, and how psoriasis affects more than 7 million Americans. That’s more than 3 percent of adults in the United States. Moreover, 80 percent to 90 percent of these people have plaque psoriasis specifically. Even celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Cyndi Lauper have psoriasis!

Be Factual and Combat Myths

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that results when skin cells reproduce too quickly. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly think it’s contagious. While you’re not obligated to educate anyone about psoriasis, it can be helpful to dispel myths and be factual in approaching conversations about the condition.

If you’re comfortable talking to others about plaque psoriasis, provide them with the facts. Tell them that plaque psoriasis is not contagious. An overactive immune system creates scaly patches and lesions on different parts of the body. Symptoms of psoriasis can differ from one person to another, and treatment of psoriasis includes moisturizers and lotions, light therapy, biologics, and topical corticosteroids.

Sharing facts about plaque psoriasis could help others be more understanding and less likely to believe myths about the condition. However, if you find yourself facing rude comments, it’s perfectly acceptable to prioritize your mental health and politely exit any conversation.

Tell Others How Plaque Psoriasis Affects You Specifically

The severity of plaque psoriasis and how it affects people’s mental and emotional health can vary from person to person. Some people experience more visible plaques, while others experience less plaques but more severe symptoms like itchiness and pain. The type of psoriasis can also influence its effect on a person. Some forms of psoriasis (like guttate psoriasis) may go away when people get older, but other forms are chronic, or lifelong.

People who do not have psoriasis may make assumptions about what the condition entails. Sharing how psoriasis affects you personally is a great tool for teaching others and helping them understand your experiences.

Speak Honestly About Your Experience

If you feel comfortable, you can tell others how your plaque psoriasis affects you. Speak candidly and honestly about your personal experiences. Explain how symptoms and treatments change your life and your approach to daily activities.

Use similarities you have with someone to explain your plaque psoriasis in a way they may be able to understand. If you have a shared hobby, you could explain how your attempts to manage psoriasis triggers may have affected your ability to participate in that hobby. Finding some common ground in a conversation can help the other person to put themselves in your shoes. It can also make the conversation more productive.

If you’re comfortable, you could mention some ways you manage life with a skin disease. For example, you could discuss dealing with side effects. You could explain how you work with a dermatologist to manage flare-ups, and how that affects your daily life.

Be True to Yourself

It can be difficult to deal with feelings of self-consciousness around people who do not understand plaque psoriasis.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared some advice: “Just be yourself. I stopped letting my condition affect how I dress or act in public. If anything, I use it as a learning tool to educate others. In fact, my friend actually got diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis after I educated her about my disease.”

If someone doesn’t seem open to having an honest conversation with you, don’t feel pressure to initiate it.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member offered some words of encouragement: “I’m sorry your close ones don’t seem to understand what you’re living with. I do agree that it’s hard for people without the experience to understand it. That’s why this group is so helpful. We all understand!”

Talking To Partners About Plaque Psoriasis

Discussing psoriasis with potential romantic or sexual partners can be a concern. Because plaques may affect areas like the face, the inside of the mouth, the lower back, and the genitals, it can cause apprehension about how to approach intimate situations with others.

“I find it kind of hard to date with psoriasis, especially when others don’t understand the condition,” shared one member.

The best approach, according to MyPsoriasisTeam members, is to be fully open and honest with your partner. “If someone is going to like or love you, they will like or love ALL of you. Keep that in mind,” said one MyPsoriasisTeam member.

Know that many people have insecurities when it comes to dating and intimacy. It can be scary to put yourself out there and meet new people, especially if you’ve had negative experiences in the past. It’s best to remember the advice that if someone is right for you, they will be patient and understanding with you.

Talk With People Who Understand

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network and online support group for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, members discuss the chronic nature of the disease. Here, more than 109,000 members from across the world come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

“It’s nice to know that I can come here and get some type of advice from people who are going through or have gone through the same thing,” wrote one team member.

Have you explained your plaque psoriasis to other people? Do you have any tips? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Manuel Penton, M.D. is a medical editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.
Anika Brahmbhatt is an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in media science and psychology. Learn more about her here.

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