PsO Similar, Yet PsO Different - Comparing Psoriasis Experiences
In another post, I discussed having psoriasis in college at the same time as a friend on campus, us crossing paths, and never knowing the either of us was suffering. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Eric about his struggles with living with the disease as a man. It opened up my eyes to the differences and similarities he and I had with the condition.
How our psoriasis experiences are similar
We both had our first flares as kids.
I was 7 when psoriasis first made its way into my life and Eric was a teen. Eric reveals, "I was diagnosed when I was 13, but I’ve had dry skin issues all my life. My dad had dry skin, too, so we just kind of figured my problem was simply dry skin..." I started off with patches on my knees and elbows, my family also thought it was just dry skin. It wasn't until I had chicken pox that psoriasis claimed my entire body.
We both struggled with self-esteem issues.
People tend to think women are more likely to suffer from self-esteem issues compared to men. Although studies show men typically have higher self-esteem than women, it doesn't absolve guys from the adverse effects of self-esteem while living with psoriasis. "I used to hate even looking in the mirror because I would see psoriasis, and it always made me feel like the ugliest person in the world," reveals Eric.
Thus far, we both have had positive dating results.
I've heard horror stories of those living with psoriasis and trying to date. While dating has it's unique challenges in the areas of psoriasis and love both Eric and I have had positive results. "The women I have dated have never had an issue with my psoriasis," says Eric. I was once married, and although divorced now, my ex was very emotionally supportive when it came to my psoriasis.
We shared the same insecurities while finding love.
I was always terrified of how a lover would feel about my disease. Most never became close enough to me where I felt comfortable enough to show my psoriasis covered skin in its entirety. Eric admits, "I felt like if I even approached a girl she was going to look at my psoriasis and be like, "Ugh, what’s that on his skin?” Anxiety use to consume my body if I was out in public and a man approached me. My first thoughts were would he see my spots of psoriasis? "No one I’ve ever been friends with, and none of the women I’ve dated, have ever looked at my psoriasis as if it was something they had to be scared of. They’ve always embraced me," states Eric.
We both dealt with the fears of stigma.
"I felt like people would think that if I came up and I touched them on the hand, they would get what I had on my face," Eric explained. The sentiments which Eric shared is the reason why I would cover my disease in 90-degree weather or pass up an invitation to the pool. I was afraid people would assume I was contagious, which in some cases they unfortunately did!
How our psoriasis experiences are different
Our psoriasis flares occur in different locations.
80% of people have a mild form of psoriasis which means around 3% of their body surface is affected by the disease. The other 20% have moderate to severe psoriasis which can expand to 3% to 10% or more of the body. I lived in the 20%, I had severe psoriasis which covered 90% of my body. Eric mainly had flares on his face and hands. It's important to remember the percentage of coverage doesn't determine the effect the disease will have on one's life. A person with psoriasis in one place can be just as negatively impacted as someone who has the condition all over their body.
We concealed our disease in different ways.
When I have had flares on my face I simply cover with makeup. However, for most men makeup is not an option to hide the disease, "...The hardest part is the fact that it’s on my face and I can’t cover it and I’m a guy, so it’s not like I can wear makeup," shares Eric. I'm sure that adds a unique challenge for men with psoriasis.
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