Identifying Common Misconceptions About Psoriasis
Last updated: August 2023
Living with psoriasis for over 60 years, I can claim to have heard it all when it comes to misconceptions about this condition, yet, I can occasionally still be taken by surprise.
Even though psoriasis affects millions of people, it is still up against a mountain of stigma and those who live with it can feel so isolated and alone. I'm committed to ending that.
The impact of psoriasis misconceptions, stigma and shame.
I was 5 years old when I was first diagnosed with psoriasis. My parents were protective of me but they themselves had many questions, concerns and hesitations. My 5-year old self didn't know I was different until my first day of school. My school sent me home. They thought the plaques on my skin were contagious.
It was 1964. I didn't know what the school was saying but it was this misconception that perpetuated a fellow student to say to my face "My mommy said to not let you touch me" that stung. I was 5 years old. This was the first time I felt the impact of misconceptions, stigma and internalized shame.
Let's debunk these common psoriasis misconceptions...
It's these interactions and painful misconceptions that can cause self-harm, self-deprecation, anxiety and depression, among many other mental health disorders. It's important to remember that psoriasis is a complex condition that affects people in different ways.
By educating ourselves and others about the realities of psoriasis, we can help to break down stigmas and create a more supportive and inclusive world for people with chronic illnesses. I'd like to share a few other common misconceptions to debunk these myths and offer a more compassionate and informed world.
We are not contagious
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Meaning, our internal systems inside of our body causes rapid skin growth in certain areas that result in plaques or spots. It cannot be transferred to another person like a common cold or flu.
Psoriasis is not just dry skin
Lotion is not the cure. Sure, it's a part of the process but so are topical treatment, oral treatments, biologics, among others. This condition also impacts the joints, nails and internal organs. Let's not get started on related conditions and comorbidities.
Psoriasis has nothing to do with hygiene
This condition is not caused by poor hygiene or lack of cleanliness. Our bodies are doing what they think it's right to protect it - and they are wrong. Shower and bathing routines are immense when it comes to psoriasis management and have nothing to do with our rapid skin growth, just how we manage it.
Psoriasis does not discriminate by age, gender or race
I was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 5. This condition can affect people of any age. It seems to be most commonly diagnosed in adults but it does not discriminate. It also impacts men and women equally - as well as race.
It's a chronic condition
Psoriasis is not just a cosmetic issue and it's a serious medical condition. I have had many hospital stays and debilitating pain due to my psoriasis. When people do not understand the reality and pain of this condition, it can lead to a lack of empathy. Emotional support is so important in life.
Committing to ending the psoriasis stigma...
This condition and it's stigma is not your fault but it is your responsibility. You can build out tools to help raise awareness that fit within your own lifestyle and comfort levels. We do not always want to lead with kindness, but we can have a few things in our back pocket that won't ruin our day - or the other persons.
Debunking common myths about psoriasis is an important step in increasing awareness and understanding around this chronic condition. By leading with patience and educating ourselves and others, we can help to reduce the stigma of psoriasis. Let's provide better support for us and those living with this misunderstood condition.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?