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Describing the Indescribable Feeling of Psoriasis

One of the most common questions I get about living with psoriasis is “what does it feel like?” It’s itchy, dry, flaky, and uncomfortable. But those individual words don’t accurately describe how it feels. Throughout the 25 years of living with this disease, I’ve tried to find descriptions that truly capture the essence of what it feels like physically and emotionally to live with psoriasis.

What does psoriasis actually feel like?

Feeling of bugs crawling and feasting: At some point in their lives, likely everyone has had bugs crawling on them and have had multiple bug bites at a time. Psoriasis feels like there is an entire army of fire ants crawling all over you and feasting on every single part of your body.

It feels like my skin is too small for my body: I’ve described it as someone washing my skin and shrinking it in the dryer, so that it feels like my skin is too small and too tight for my body. No matter how much lotion or move, those sensations are constant. The underlying discomfort of psoriasis can be felt even when the visible symptoms are not immediately apparent.

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Like living in a snow globe: The white, dry skin of the psoriasis flakes can feel like you’re creating a snowstorm anytime you move. One shake of your head can make you feel like you’re living in your own personal snow globe!

Like an unwelcome hug: Psoriasis plaques feel tight and constricting, creating a feeling like you're struggling for breath within an unwelcome and unrelenting embrace. It’s a constant physical and uncomfortable reminder of its presence.

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The itch that never sleeps: It’s an incessant itch, comparable to having an insatiable urge to scratch that never seems to subside. Imagine the discomfort of living with chicken pox or measles that doesn’t get better for months or even years at a time.

Like a sunburn on steroids: Sunburns are very common and something most people can sympathize with. The inflammation and redness of a psoriasis flare can feel like having a severe sunburn. The kind that radiates heat and makes you feel miserable. And it doesn’t just get better within a few days with some aloe.

The sting of a thousand paper cuts: Even the smallest of plaques can bring immense pain and discomfort, so with a body covered in a flare it can feel like thousands of tiny paper cuts scattered across the skin.

Walking on broken glass: For those with psoriasis on the soles of their feet, every step can be a painful journey that feels like walking on sharp shards of glass, making even simple tasks a challenge.

Living in a fishbowl: The visible nature of psoriasis can make you feel exposed all the time, even when it's covered. It can feel like you’re living in a glass bowl where every glance feels like a judgment. This idea captures the vulnerability and emotional aspect that often accompanies living with psoriasis.

Describing psoriasis is so hard

Even with these descriptions, it’s still challenging to accurately share the unique sensations and emotions of living with psoriasis.

By fostering understanding and empathy, we can work together to break down the misconceptions surrounding psoriasis, building a stronger and more supportive community for those who navigate this journey.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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