Two snapshots/photos of the same woman having a flare-up. One is happy and vibrant wearing a tshirt. The other is wearing a sweater turtleneck and sunglasses.

Dealing With Three Negative Comments About Psoriasis

Last updated: February 2020

When I leaving the house in a t-shirt and shorts on a bad psoriasis day, I perform a quick self-edit with my emotional state. This routine is to see if I can cope with any negative comments or side sweep glances.

Almost always, the answer is yes, today is a t-shirt day and I'm feeling good.

Respoding to negative comments about psoriasis

It hasn't always been this way. I have found having pre-prepared responses for different social situations can remove some of the anxiety. This is from my own experiences venturing out in skimpy summer wear or something sparkly and sleeveless in an evening.

Here are some of the ways I deal with three of the most common negative comments towards my psoriasis. My prepared responses won't leave me shell-shocked and saddened for the rest of the day.

1. What's wrong with your skin?

There are two problems I have with this question. Firstly, it's deeply insensitive. Secondly, it assumes that there is a wrongness about my psoriasis. If you compare it to the question of 'is that eczema?' you can see what I mean. There's no adverse inference there.

I have found the important thing here is to remove any fear. If someone thinks there's something wrong with your skin, and that's usually code for infection. I address that my skin is not infectious, so they calm down enough to listen to my attempt to educate.

One fear is removed it's time to educate. The only way we can make the world a safer place is to increase awareness of what psoriasis is. To remove the stigma. If you have the strength, then try to explain whats going on. It's one of the reasons I think people are so complacent when it's eczema.

Rehearsed responses to negative comments

It can be helpful to ask if they have any questions, but in truth, I usually want to get on with my day. If the person is ungrateful, then walk away, some people are simply rude, and like the safety, they create for themselves living in their ignorance.

Some of the things I say depending on time and the hostility of the person who has interrupted my day.

  • "I have psoriasis - it's genetic, so you can't catch it."
  • "I have an auto-immune condition that attacks my skin and sometimes my joints. It's not infectious."

If the person is receptive and I have the time, I will explain that skin cells usually take three weeks to mature. That because of my immune system, some of my skin cells are only three days old when they come to the surface and that is why my skin looks different. When people find out they are just baby new skin cells; suddenly, they are less scared to touch you.

2. It's just a rash

I dislike this one because it undermines how I'm feeling. Psoriasis isn't just a rash. It's systemic. For me, it's never-ending and sometimes it makes me feel so out of control of my own body. I break down and need my support network to pick me back up again.

It's a burden that I carry and will always have. Suggesting otherwise undermines how I feel and can make me feel like I am being accused of overreacting. Or worse, make me feel I shouldn't open up and be honest about how I am feeling in my skin. Not being open and honest about how we feel with our psoriasis is not healthy.

Rehearsed responses to negative comments

It sounds droll but education is the best way forward. Here are some of the statements I use. People are always surprised and often thank me for telling them. They know other people with the condition and realize they have been under supporting them too.

  • "Did you know that psoriasis doesn't just affect the skin? It can affect joints and increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and depression?"
  • "Did you know psoriasis is an auto-immune condition? Anything that triggers my immune system can trigger a flare which causes my psoriasis to spread all over my body. A few times it has been so bad I couldn't sleep or wear shoes."
  • "Psoriasis can be hard to live with; not many people understand that. Suicide is more common in people with psoriasis - isn't that awful?"

I like to end with a question. This helps keep the conversation going as these comments are not meant harshly. I also get to leave the conversation knowing that for the other people they know with psoriasis, they have a more supportive friend.

3. No one is looking at your skin

I say this is a negative comment, though if you listen to my podcast, you will have heard me say it a few times! It depends on who says it, and the context in which it is meant.

When I say it, I am talking about what happens when you wear clothes you love and go out into the world exuding confidence. It becomes harmful when you are feeling low in confidence and expressing concern about how uncomfortable you feel wearing certain clothes.

It's naive to tell a person that no one is looking. They may not have noticed, but when we lack confidence, we see side glances, double-takes, and people holding their gaze just a fraction of a second too long.

Rehearsed responses to negative comments

This means its more comfortable to sit and have an honest conversation. I explain that there are times that people do notice my skin, and its the first encounters with people which are the hardest - not knowing how they will react.

So I try to provide alternative options to restore my confidence. Examples include:

  • When friends step in: If I'm backing out of going to a ball, I will tell my friend honestly why. Then my friends send me photos of fake furs to cover my upper back, extravagant headwear to draw attention from my arms, and the link to a potential dress. This is the help I need.
  • Providing alternative plans: I tell my partner that I want to go out with his friends more. Their excessive drinking makes my skin flare. So maybe we could entertain them at our house with low histamine drinking options and lots of candlelight.
  • Setting up new plans: Try the new health spa where the water is rich in sulfur and so attract people with skin conditions. This is more appealing than the club pool because no one bats an eyelid when you're walking around covered in spots in the healing spa.

Explain the need for sympathy, empathy, and understanding over positive tropes and naive enthusiasm. I also like to suggest ways that friends can genuinely help.

The ultimate response to negative comments about psoriasis

What if you don't want to talk to anyone? You want the ground to swallow them up? All you need to say is this: "I'd like to tell you more about this, but now isn't a good time. Try googling psoriasis - it starts with a P."

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?