As a person living with psoriasis for over 50 years. I have definitely come across people that have never seen psoriasis and are not informed about this disease. They may naturally be curious about what is going on my skin. One of the best things I learned while dealing with this disease was to be very knowledgeable. When people ask me questions about my psoriasis; I was ready with answers.
Handling everyday encounters
Getting looks is one thing but having to explain your condition over and over to random strangers can wear you down. It can be mentally exhausting, not to mention can damage your self-confidence. I have always been in the public eye; so I was asked questions every day about my condition. Therefore, it’s important to prepare yourself for the reality you will have to talk about your psoriasis. The best way for you to look at this is by putting a positive spin on it. Utilize the encounter as a teaching moment and chance to advocate for psoriasis. I did.
The most common questions you’ll have to deal with are:
• What is wrong with your skin?
• Is it contagious?
• Is that a rash or what kind of rash is that?
First things first before you begin answering any questions. You need to make sure you’re in a good place to answer questions. Never force yourself to talk about your psoriasis if you’re not ready. However, if you are going to talk about it you should be cordial, educating and informative. Speak open and honestly and only give facts. This is your opportunity to remove the stigma associated with psoriasis and throughout the process you may find this communication process therapeutic. Speaking about something that bothers you is a great way to feel more comfortable about the subject.
Let’s take a look at each question and discuss reasonable answers to each question. First, start with explaining what psoriasis is. You need to inform them it’s a chronic disease that involves the immune system and there are varying degrees of the condition. There is no cure and it is not contagious. You cannot take offense for someone asking if a skin disorder is contagious because there are many that are contagious. A person who knows little about psoriasis is wise to be cautious. All you need to do is reassure them it is not a rash nor an infection. That the scales are simply how the disease manifests itself. Inform them with proper treatment psoriasis is manageable. They can touch you and feel confident they are safe.
Gaining a psoriasis ally through education
After you have the basics out of the way you can offer more information on how the disease can affect a person’s life and other conditions that can accompany psoriasis, like psoriatic arthritis. If they seem interested keep gently informing them about the condition. This is a great way for another person to see psoriasis differently. You always need support where you can get it, so if talking to another person about this disease can make them an ally or advocate for the cause, then that’s awesome. Don’t expect people to immediately jump aboard the psoriasis support train, but if you can change just one person’s uninformed phobia with facts – you have done a good job.