Managing Stares and Uncomfortable Questions About Psoriasis Skin
Last updated: April 2022
Psoriasis is a chronic condition with associated stigma and debilitating pain. It's not uncommon for those with psoriasis to feel lonely and isolated. This loneliness can be amplified when navigating a new diagnosis.
Along with the dreaded itch and never-ending discomfort, the emotional toll of psoriasis can be challenging to handle. One added factor of having a visible condition is answering questions about its visible symptoms.
So what can we do?
While most of your favorite loved ones would tell you to ignore everyone around, and it might seem like great advice, it's also not a very realistic option. I don't know a single person who can completely turn off their feelings resulting in zero reaction after emotionally charged interactions.
Start with the basics
Educate others and tell them what psoriasis is all about. Explain that it's not contagious, that it's incurable, and that it has nothing to do with poor hygiene.
Therefore, educating every person you meet isn't practical in casual situations. No one should spend their life talking about psoriasis all the time, unless you're a psoriasis spokesperson, instead of enjoying the conversation about something you're really into.
Find your own version of support
Another option, that actually happened to help me, was finding a support group on the internet. Talking to people dealing with the same issues daily made me feel like I wasn't alone in my struggles.
As a person facing uncomfortable situations for years, I had to come to terms with people's looks as it was something inevitable. But coming to terms wasn't being entirely ok with it. I stopped covering my spots and started wearing shorts and t-shirts instead of covering everything with long gloves or black tights that couldn't cover everything anyway.
I changed my internal thinking and started acting like my skin was completely clear of psoriasis. And guess what happened? I was smiling at people before they even had a chance to look at me.
An international interaction...
First, something positive changed my relations with strangers: my psoriasis helped me get closer to people a few times. For example, when I was going to Tortuga Bay beach in the Galápagos Islands, a local woman stopped me to ask about my skin.
I explained to her that she shouldn’t worry about me in a few words, but she insisted on me going to her house to try a cream that her daughter uses.
I tried to thank her politely, but she insisted, and I finally agreed to try out her cream while she served me iced tea and cookies, and we chatted about some of the local things to do in the Galapagos for over an hour.
When psoriasis no longer controls you
I noticed that people weren't staring at me as much as they were before by working through these practices. I'm not sure if it was how I presented myself, or maybe it was all in my head before? Some people had felt uncomfortable with my skin before, but I'm not convinced anymore if they weren't just staring at me like they would at anyone else.
People stare at one another on a subway, in a waiting room of a doctor's office, or in any other public place. That seems to be fundamental to human nature.
Ironically, showing off my flakes made my psoriasis better. No one was making me uncomfortable, or let me say that I wasn't making myself uncomfortable, and as a result, I wasn't as stressed as I used to be before.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?