How Does Psoriasis Impact Your Daily Life?

A dermatologist presenting at the event asked attendees, how is psoriasis impacting your daily life? My brain lit up as I thought about my answer. It’s a question I’ve continued to ask myself.

The pharmaceutical company AbbVie sponsored my trip to this three-hour educational event, during which dermatologists and patient advocates addressed the chronic skin diseases psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). I expected the discussions to center around scientific advances and the latest treatments, but most focused on quality-of-life issues.

I was saddened to hear the results of a survey that found that almost 9 in 10 respondents reported that psoriasis affected their emotional well-being.

Facing Losses With Hope

Each patient I met at the event chronicled some kind of loss due to chronic skin disease. One person could not keep her job; someone told a story of dropping out of college; another patient, who loved playing sports, had to stop as a teen when psoriasis became unbearable. I could relate. After graduating from university, I didn’t take a job I wanted because of health insurance issues.

The stories, though, took a positive turn. With increased education, support, and better treatments, patient advocates found purpose in helping others, pursuing goals, and actively participating in their treatment decisions.

Finding Emotional Well-Being by Connecting With a Support Network

As I think back on what I heard during The Science of Skin, a few words describing the emotional impact of chronic skin disease stand out: shame, isolation, self-blame, and unpredictability. The vast majority of survey respondents with psoriasis reported experiencing depression, embarrassment, and feelings of helplessness.

The impact of a condition like psoriasis on a person’s emotional well-being cannot be overstated. I still go through low periods with psoriasis. At the end of last year, I went into a period of isolation and stopped sharing on social media or writing blog posts for months.

When one dermatologist at the event stated almost anyone can be clear of psoriasis with current treatments, I realized one reason I’d felt down was disappointment that my skin wasn’t clearer.

Overcoming Isolation by Turning to People Who Understand What You Endure

Chronic skin conditions can impact social interactions with others. A psycho- dermatologist at the event noted how people with visible skin conditions can become worn down by the negative reactions of others. She stressed the great need to tackle the isolation that those with psoriasis and HS often face.

A patient advocate shared how she shied away from dating and intimacy, fearing the moment she would need to reveal her skin to a potential partner. I thought back on how the psoriasis on my hands and scalp caused me to avoid shaking hands or going for a haircut.

Social interactions can become ordeals for those with chronic skin conditions, making it more difficult to build lasting, deep, and meaningful relationships.

The other day I saw the bright sunshine out my bedroom window and decided to wear shorts. But when I stared at the psoriasis on my lower legs I thought twice because I didn’t want to deal with the stares or wonder if others would pull away from me.

The Science of Skin event ultimately reminded me that there are people who can understand what I endure and support me through it.

How does psoriasis affect your daily life? How can you better manage those challenges and treat your psoriasis more effectively?

You can read more about my experiences in my blog for ishonest and on my website.

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