If Psoriasis Could Talk...
Last updated: November 2018
My psoriasis is abrasive, loud, and typically hogs the attention of anyone close by. If my psoriasis could talk it would probably make statements which were annoying, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, drawing the curiosity of everyone around. If I could describe psoriasis with a job title, I would say it is the Communications Director of my body with its presence basically announcing to the world that there is a problem deep within my over-reactive immune system. However, in reality, my psoriasis is voiceless, yet it still speaks volumes typically passing along a misconstrued message of eczema or some other rash to anyone within an earshot.
Neglecting emotional health
As loud as psoriasis can be this disease can never express how you feel mentally and emotionally, a concept that is not widely understood especially among those of the medical community. For years, while the visible component of our conditions stole the attention from those around us and even our doctors, the feelings we felt deep down inside remained unheard. So much so that often times our mental and emotional health was neglected or not considered as something which needed to be assessed.
Speak-up to your doctors
There have been many moments where I walked out of a doctors office feeling as though my needs weren't met, however as I reflect, I realized I allowed my condition to speak on my behalfvopposed to stating how I truly felt and what I needed to the doctor. When the doctor surveys your skin all they see is the flaky, dry, patches of skin plastered to different parts of your body. They don't know how often your body itches, if your skin burns, or if you are in pain, which is why we as patients must speak up and advocate on behalf of our disease.
Here are 5 things you must say on behalf of psoriasis
- "I'm in pain here, here, and here" Your doctor will not be aware of how much pain you are in just be observing your skin so you must speak up and explain any pain you have experienced. Also, if you are feeling aching in any of your joints you need to report this to the doctor no matter how minuscule you think it may be, it could be early signs of psoriatic disease (PsA). Many young people with PsA are misdiagnosed because they attribute joint pain to things such as heavy lifting or strenuous activity.
- "I'm itching all over" The symptoms of psoriasis will vary from person to person, and everyone won't have symptoms of itching. Some people have "phantom itching" in which they will itch in various areas where their psoriasis isn't present. It is important to report this to your doctor because it could affect the treatment regimen you are on.
- "This is what bothers me most" What is your biggest peeve when it comes to this disease? Is it the itching, the flaking, the pain or something else? It's important to express to the doctor which symptoms bother you the most so you and your doctor can set priorities on how to treat.
- "I don't feel attractive" Your dermatologist doesn't specialize in psychology so they won't be able to help you with the emotional or mental health aspects of the disease, however, they should be willing to refer you to the necessary specialist.
- "My sex life is suffering" Oftentimes genital psoriasis goes untreated and undiagnosed because people living with the condition are too embarrassed or ashamed to mention it to their doctor. Having psoriasis in your private parts can severely affect ones sex life. It requires creams and ointments different from the ones you use on your arms and legs.
Unfortunately, this might even be information we have to volunteer because we may not be asked by our medical professionals, which is a serious issue advocates continue to tackle every day for better care.
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?