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Don’t Suffer in Silence

Psoriasis is more than just a rash. I was visiting my co-worker recently and her dad just happened to stop by. I noticed he was scratching at his lower calf profusely. I walked over to say hi, and I got a closer look at his legs. At first glance, I immediately knew it was psoriasis. My co-worker has had psoriasis since she was very young, but she never saw it on her dad before who is in his sixties. I asked her if she noticed his legs and what did she think was wrong. She thought it was psoriasis too, but mentioned it to her dad who refused to get it checked out and ignored it. He was in denial and thought it was just a rash that would go away.

It's just a rash

I was curious and approached him to start a conversation. I asked what was going on with his legs and if he was in any pain? He told me he was fine and that all he had was a rash on his legs that was very itchy and it burns when he sweats. He offered his own diagnosis to me. He originally thought it was poison ivy but then since it had not healed, he concluded it could be ringworm or a heat rash. I explained to him it looked like psoriasis to me. He simply shrugged his shoulders. He also added that his rash didn’t look anything like psoriasis his daughter had. He insisted it wasn’t psoriasis and didn’t want to discuss it any further.

Trying to understand why others suffer in silence

I could clearly see he was in some discomfort, but I was unsure why he refused to consider it was psoriasis. It was noticeable he had been scratching his legs to the point of bleeding and I was left with this nagging question why he just wouldn’t seek help? It was so bizarre that he wouldn’t even seek a diagnosis or any kind of treatment. Why was he in denial and more importantly, why was he suffering in silence?

It dawned on me that he was probably afraid, ashamed or confused about what was going on with his body. Why do most people treat skin conditions like it’s nothing? Skin is our largest organ so why are we not more concerned? Do you know that 8 million Americans are suffering from varying degrees of burning, itching, peeling and pain that’s associated with psoriasis?

Many people don't get help for their psoriasis

Studies show a surprising number of people aren’t getting any type of help for their condition. In fact, many people suffering from psoriasis don’t even know they have it. Psoriasis is one of those conditions that can be triggered by stress, injury or an infection; anything that triggers your immune system can lead to an attack on the skin. This causes skins cells to grow at a faster rate ultimately leading to a psoriasis outbreak. Psoriasis is not limited to age, gender, it can show up early or late in life.

Reasons people may not seek out help for psoriasis

I have had this disease for 55 years and I always wonder why people would suffer in silence or choose to live in denial about any type of skin rash?

I came up with the following:

  • Many people don’t think their skin disorder is serious and they think it will eventually go away. When they realize it hasn’t gone away or hasn’t gotten worse, they resolve to just live with it and manage it on their own.
  • People don’t have insurance or money to go see a doctor. Many people who don’t have insurance save their scarce trips to the doctor for severe illnesses. They don’t deem a skin rash or condition serious enough to warrant the expense. Unfortunately, those who eventually seek care realize the drugs used to treat psoriasis can be very expensive.
  • The last reason is that people don’t believe there is a cure or a treatment effective enough to help, so they do nothing. So many psoriasis sufferers live with the mentality that they’ve been punished and fall into a depression that prevents them from wanting to properly care for their skin. There is anger, fear, frustration, and resentment associated with a victim mentality that can happen with any disease. On the other hand, sufferers whose cases are less severe find OTC (over-the-counter) methods their best recourse and don’t want to waste time or energy on other treatments.

There's help: Don't suffer alone

I believe its pride and denial standing in the way of people seeking treatment. We need to rely on each other for support. Granted we all have different degrees of psoriasis, try to find a support system. If my co-worker’s dad had open-up to her, this would have been an opportunity for him to reach out to her and ease her solitude.

I could see my co-worker looking at her skin and the reaction of her dad's face when confronted with the possibility of him having psoriasis. I could feel her shame and sadness. I know she felt alone even though she was seeking treatment, she was suffering in a different kind of silence. We don’t have to suffer alone.

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