Lessons from Life as a Teenager with Psoriasis
When my three children were teenagers they liked to call me an old man. Iâ€™d try to tell them that I was once their age, too, but my words fell on deaf ears. To them I belonged to an older generation, out of touch with their reality.
Still, some memories from my teen years remain as clear to me as if they happened yesterday â€” especially ones that concern my psoriasis.
The doctors diagnosed me with psoriasis in elementary school. As a teenager, I coped with severe psoriasis at a time when there were few good treatment options. I experienced some of my most challenging moments with this condition during those years.
I can describe my journey in four words.
The best way to understand the embarrassment I felt with psoriasis is to picture me on a sweltering summer day, awkwardly wearing long pants and a long-sleeve button-down shirt in the 100-degree heat.
A condition like psoriasis that shows up on the skin is tough to hide. Feeling embarrassed, I avoided many social situations when I could, becoming shy and somewhat withdrawn from everyone but my closest friends.
I wasnâ€™t always able to hide my psoriasis underneath my clothing, and one painful memory of high school stands out.
During my junior year, I ran track and cross-country. One day, while I was changing my clothes in the boysâ€™ locker room, two students from another sports team rudely asked me about my skin and began taunting me for having a contagious disease. (Even today too many people think that psoriasis is contagious.) I seriously wanted to punch them. I felt angry and alone, wishing I could just disappear.
Friends and family tried to console me, but I felt no one could truly understand what I suffered.
Happily, there are many more resources for teens now. Itâ€™s incredible to see programs such the National Psoriasis Foundationâ€™s Our Spot site for kids. Through social media, teenagers can connect with others who have similar conditions and backgrounds much more easily than I could.
As a teenager, I seemed to always have a high level of frustration with psoriasis. I needed to see doctors and undergo messy treatments like coal tar and phototherapy, and I worried constantly about my health. It didnâ€™t seem fair that my friends didnâ€™t have to go through all this stuff.
I learned about the endurance needed to live day after day with psoriasis through long-distance running. Pushing myself mile after mile in the summer sun, I desperately wanted to stop to rest; itâ€™s so much easier to give up than to continue in discomfort.
But instead of stopping, I trained myself just to slow down for a stretch to catch my breath. I kept the goal of my workout or race in mind, and eventually picked up the pace again. Itâ€™s important to know when to rest if something hurts, but otherwise I kept going. It also helped to run with others who encouraged me to finish strong.
Life with a chronic illness like psoriasis is like a long-distance race: It requires endurance. It isnâ€™t always excruciating, though at times it can be. You need others to cheer you on and keep you focused on the goal of living life as fully as possible.
Finding Strength to Face Lifeâ€™s Challenges
Every stage of life comes with challenges, the teen years included, and psoriasis adds yet another dimension. If you are a teenager reading this, I hope you know that you are not alone.
You are a valuable person no matter what health condition you might have to live with. If you keep going, youâ€™ll find youâ€™re stronger than you think you are. When you look around youâ€™ll see that others with psoriasis have survived and thrived.
Keep a positive attitude and learn what works best for you in managing your condition and coping with your psoriasis symptoms. Youâ€™ll be another step further in the journey toward fulfilling your goals and dreams.
You can read more about my experiences on my website, PsoHoward.
The Latest in Psoriasis
Picking at Your Psoriasis Scales? Do This Instead
Itâ€™s tempting to peel and pick at those itchy scales, but if you can help it, there are better ways to cope.
What Black Patients Need To Know About The Effects of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can look differently on darker skin than on lighter skin â€” and knowing how to spot the symptoms is an important first step of the treatment ...
Ways to Protect Your Eye Health â€” and Preserve Your Vision â€” With Psoriasis
How to keep the skin condition from negatively impacting your vision.
7 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Your Next Hair Salon Visit if You Have Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis symptoms can make a routine trip to the hair salon stressful. But with the right approach, you can have an easier visit â€” and a healthy...
Do You Need a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster if You Have Psoriasis?
Psoriasis drugs that work by suppressing the bodyâ€™s immune response may raise the risk of COVID-19 complications. If youâ€™re already immunized, can a booster...
Psoriasis Awareness: A 2021 Special Report
Psoriasis flares have been on the rise in 2021, according to a survey of ishonest readers who have the skin condition. Hereâ€™s what might be to ...
Psoriasis: How to Deal with Cracked, Bleeding Skin
Take these steps to heal your skin and avoid future fissures.
Your Psoriasis Diet: Best Foods for Spring and Summer
Ready to break out your favorite warm-weather recipes? Here are delicious anti- inflammatory ingredients you should consider using.
Read more on: psoriasis