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alt=a close-up of an eye with psoriasis on the eyelid and surrounding area.

My Stressful Year of Eyelid Psoriasis

During the year 2020, when the global COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, eyelid psoriasis became something I contended with pretty frequently. I live in New York City, which became a sort of pandemic hotspot for some time during those early months.

It was incredibly surreal those first few months. It was winter in NYC, and everything felt cold, gray, and nightmarish — a dystopic reality where a once-beautiful city became empty, full of fearful strangers avoiding one another.

Managing a stressful time...

Having autoimmune issues caused me to play it extra safe, so I was careful whenever I went anywhere.  Even though the whole world was contending with the virus, I thought I had it all somewhat "under control" in terms of my emotional and mental health.

Oof. I was wrong. Somewhere around summer 2020, my anxiety was at an all-time high. Panic attacks at bedtime when I'd finally shut my brain off. Thoughts of death and fear and worry. Insomnia.

Of course, this never bodes well for autoimmunity. Because the more you stress, the less you sleep, and the less you sleep, the more your body tries (and fails) to recover stasis. One morning, I woke up with an itchy and red eye skin area — and it just grew.

It was dry and patchy and covered the entire inner eyelid of my right eye. Then it circled around the bottom. Then, it appeared on the other eye.

Waking up with eyelid psoriasis...

At first, I thought it was an allergy, but it soon became clear that this was the type of psoriasis that comes and goes during periods of stress or when I have an ankylosing spondylitis flare up - I notice the two can be related at times.

I firmly believe that the stress and trauma of the pandemic and the mental health issues that became more long-term because of it played a hand in my eyelid psoriasis.

I'd never had psoriasis on my face before, and even that stressed me out. Would it get worse?

I was not on biologics at the time due to fear of catching COVID-19, so I was just taking care of my health with anti-inflammatories. I made sure my skin was very clear at all times, not caked with makeup or covered in any other irritating substances like oils or creams.

Finding a space to decompress...

Eventually, we decided to get out of NYC for a bit. We safely drove down to a beach town where we had family and shacked up on the beach for a bit. As a freelancer, I could do this, and my partner was off work due to the pandemic.

As the fear of living in the middle of NYC's scary pandemic crisis faded, and as I took long walks every morning on an empty beach, my psoriasis faded - as did my pain and mobility issues. I think the sun played a big role in clearing up my skin — and the restfulness of the trip helped me cope with my anxiety.

Our bodies are so delicate. Have you ever noticed how stress plays a role?

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