What Do You Say To a Newly Diagnosed Teen with Psoriasis?

I have had psoriasis for over 50 years. I run a support group in my town. Every now and then I run across a young adult who can’t handle the thought of having psoriasis and just wants it to go away. What do you say to that person? How can you make them feel better? What can you do to help them?

Most young adults I run across have a few patches on their knees and elbows, but to a young person, this seems like the end of the world. They don’t want to hear that it could be worse. They don’t want to hear about new treatments or it will be ok. They want to think it’s anything but psoriasis and most never tell their friends what they have. They are devastated, especially if it is on the face.

First, you are not alone

I have had this disease for many years, so I believe I have a little knowledge on this subject. They first thing I tell anyone is that they are not alone. There is plenty of support out there.

As a support group leader for over 10 years; I try and educate my people as much as possible. The first thing I tell them is to find a good dermatologist that knows about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Make sure you are happy with your doctor and happy with the treatment plan that you are put on. You need to form a good relationship with him or her. There is no cure for this disease, so you will be seeing this doctor for a long time. Stay on your treatment plan and follow it faithfully. Don’t skip appointments.

Unfortunately, for those of us with psoriasis, we need support. It’s easy to slip into depression, so I tell new people to attend support group meetings, talk to family or friends if it gets to be too much for them. You need to meet people who are going through what you’re going through and understand your struggles.

I have no one in my family who has this disease, but we are finding out that it is heredity; so gather as much history about your family as possible for your doctor.

Mapping out your path

This is also a good time to try and figure out what makes you flare up. You will go through lots of trial and errors to figure this out. It could be the food, the weather, stress, kids, smoking or just life in general. Finding out your triggers will help you to decide what is good or bad for you.

I also tell a newly diagnosed person to always moisture, moisture, moisture. It will help with the dreadful itch. You really have to take really good care of your skin now. Take warm showers and make sure the water is not too hot. Try not to scratch, you don’t want to bleed and get an infection. Don’t pick, we loved to pick. You don’t want to irritate your skin as much as it already is. Try to wear clothing that doesn't stick to you. Cotton is usually the best.

The most important advice I could give is to be around people who are helpful and supportive. Having this disease is hard enough as it is. You’re going to be very emotional in the upcoming days and years. Eat right, rest and drink plenty of water.

Over the years I have been an active advocate for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, speaking up and out about this disease.

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