How to Have a Better Dating Life If You Have Psoriasis

If poor body image or low self-esteem due to psoriasis makes you want to avoid dating or intimacy, you’re not alone. Nearly one-third of people who have psoriasis say the condition affects their love life, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

“For some people with psoriasis who are considering dating, the presence of the rash can be a concern, depending on its extent and location,” says David Pisetsky, MD, professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. “If you have a lot of psoriasis in highly visible places, it can affect your mood and confidence,” he says. “On the other hand, psoriasis may be limited and may even be hard to see.”

This can also lead to isolation and social withdrawal, says Julie Shafer, PhD, a psychologist in Portland, Oregon. “People don’t want to feel rejected, and you may get a lot of that when you have psoriasis,” she says.

Dating Tips From the Pros and People With Psoriasis

Dating and maintaining a healthy relationship are not impossible if you have psoriasis.

Take Karina Rabin’s story, for example. During college, Rabin’s peers called her “Polka Dot.” She says they ridiculed her because of her widespread psoriasis patches. “I was covered in dots,” says Rabin. “It was very hard to date.”

Her love life may have been hard to navigate all those years ago, but the Colorado-based entrepreneur’s dating woes are in the past. She met a man who wasn’t put off by her skin condition. Instead of running for the hills, she says, he asked her smart questions and did his own research on psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches on the skin.

Today, the two are happily married and run their own small business together.

Here’s how you can find your own happily ever.

Decide the right time to tell. The decision of when and how to tell a date about your psoriasis is an individual one, Dr. Shafer says, and it often depends on whether your psoriasis is visible or not. “It is a tricky dance, but you may not want to bring it up on the first date if it is not visible,” she says. “If it is visible, you may not have a choice.”

Rabin didn’t have a choice when she began dating her now husband. “Luckily for me, he understood,” she says. If you are dating someone who values you for who you are, instead of what you look like, this should not be deal breaker, Shafer adds. “Look for comments about how the person thinks and talks about other people,” she suggests. “If they are not very understanding of others, I would hesitate about sharing with them, or even dating them,” she says.

Consider covering flares until you’re ready to share. “I used to always wear pants and long-sleeved shirts — how embarrassing when it was hot out,” Rabin says. Still, many people with psoriasis will wear makeup or strategically use clothing to give them a little extra confidence when dating. This is a personal choice, Shafer says.

Teach your partner about psoriasis. “Once you have divulged that you have psoriasis, take out your smartphone and educate your date on the disease, including the fact that it is not contagious,” Shafer says. Be prepared to answer questions your partner may have. Being open and honest about your symptoms and how they impact your life may help lead to a more understanding, supportive relationship.

Be open about intimacy. Psoriasis can affect your body image and may make you feel self-conscious about being intimate. And if psoriasis affects your genitals, sex may be uncomfortable and can make your symptoms worse. Before becoming intimate with a new partner, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about how psoriasis may impact your sex life. Explain what feels good and what doesn’t and explore other ways of being intimate if your symptoms make sex painful.

Stay on top of your treatment plan: “Treating your psoriasis can help improve confidence when dating,” Dr. Pisetsky says. And that can make it easier to have the conversation about psoriasis on your terms. Your treatment options may include light therapy, topical medications, and biologics. Work with your dermatologist to find a treatment plan that works for you.

It’s also important to practice healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, following a daily skincare routine, and reducing stress. Not only can this help you manage psoriasis, it can also help you feel better overall and boost your confidence in the process.

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