Depending on its severity, psoriasis could play a big role in determining your quality of life.1 It’s hard to predict when you’re going to have a flare-up, so you may feel a lack of control over how your day is going to go. On days when patches appear all over your body, you may feel embarrassed about your appearance and wonder how people are going to perceive you.
Some of your struggles could simply stem from the obvious physical discomfort of living with psoriasis symptoms. Dry skin can be irksome and, in some cases, downright painful. But there are less obvious struggles for many psoriasis patients. Results from the Clear about Psoriasis global survey showed that 84% of patients face discrimination, 54% feel negative impacts at work, and 43% suffer in their personal relationships.2
In addition, the National Psoriasis 2 Foundation found that psoriasis patients are twice as likely to suffer from depression than the rest of the population.3
No matter where you’re from or what type of psoriasis you have, it is likely that you will share similar complaints with others who are suffering from psoriasis. For instance, you may find it difficult to wear the clothes you want or fight the temptation to scratch your skin. Still, there is a good likelihood that your quality of life will improve with the right treatment plan. Always speak to your dermatologist first as the prelude to improving your general wellbeing.
Read on for some useful tips, gleaned from various sources in the psoriasis community, to deal with these areas of your life:
If your flare-ups are triggered at the workplace, you may worry about more than just your appearance. You may need time off for medical appointments and wonder whether it is appropriate to tell your boss and colleagues about your condition. You may be afraid of being stigmatised, worry about workplace gossip, or how it may affect your career.
The workplace can be a stressful environment and it is useful to learn how to manage it. According to the official website of the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), stress plays a role in triggering or exacerbating psoriasis symptoms.4 To regain control of the situation, consider breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, or conjuring positive mental thoughts with guided imagery.5 For more tips, read 4 Psoriasis Triggers You Need To Manage To Prevent Flare-ups.
2. Social Life
When you receive invitations to parties or vacations, does your psoriasis stop you from going? Your hesitation is understandable. 88% of respondents to the Clear about Psoriasis survey felt self-conscious or embarrassed when doing activities.6 Up to 40% simply cannot stand the 6 thought of others seeing their flaky skin.7
You're in a real dilemma. If you go, you risk exposing your skin condition to a lot of people in public. You may feel ashamed and fear that others may think you have poor hygiene or a contagious disease. If you decline the invitation, however, you may not be invited to anything else in the future and that may lead to social exclusion.
However, don’t let your anxieties hold you back from doing the things you enjoy. Know that you can avoid public scrutiny and still feel comfortable outdoors by dressing to your advantage. Reach out to trusted friends and discuss activities you’re comfortable with so you can be part of the planning process. Seek the right treatment plan and get your dermatologist’s advice on how to stay on track if you go on extended holidays. Understand your symptoms so you can avoid doing things that trigger your psoriasis. With new treatment options available, clear skin is now possible.
3. Dating and Relationships
Imagine being single. You’re not sure if you can find someone who will accept you and your psoriasis. On the first date, you may stress out about what to wear to disguise your condition. You may go on several more dates but still avoid talking about the elephant in the room. However, as the relationship progresses, you realise that you'll have to talk about it at some point because your patches will show eventually.
The Clear about Psoriasis survey found that 43% of people with psoriasis find it tough to get into a relationship.8 You will need a lot of empathy and compassion from your romantic partner so that you will feel comfortable discussing it.
A National Psoriasis Foundation blogger suggests that when you go dating, you should accept yourself, your skin condition, and not allow psoriasis to define you as a person. The right person should be considerate and encouraging of your situation.9 According to experts, open communication is one of the keys in establishing a trusting and supportive relationship. With that in place, it is easier to pre-empt your romantic partners about issues that may arise during intimacy.10
Next time you go on a date, here are 6 Tips That You Need To Manage Scalp Psoriasis On Special Occasions.
4. Rest and Relax
According to some studies, there appears to be a link between psoriasis and sleep-related problems, as well as a higher incidence of insomnia.11,12 This has been mainly attributed to a vicious cycle of poor sleep: It creates fatigue, which may lead to more pain and itching, thus causing even more sleeplessness.13
Suppose you experience a severe flare-up. Between the itching, flaking, dryness, and redness, you may give in to a fitful night of scratching. You may even wake up to bloodstained spots on your sheets or find dried blood under your fingernails. By the time you realise that you’ve injured your skin and created more lesions, it may already be too late.
Itching affects 70-90% of people with psoriasis.14 To minimise itching in the first place, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests moisturising right after a shower to keep your dry skin at bay.15 If you rarely exercise, start now to improve your health and sleep quality.16
Try to wind down in the evening with a relaxing bath or meditation before you go to bed.17 Clear your mind by minimising distractions and turning off your devices. Make sure your sleeping environment is dark and quiet, and air temperature is just right for you to get the restful, deep sleep.18
Find a dermatologist who really gets you.
Some topical treatments can be uncomfortable and may not give you the results you want. The best thing to do is to discuss treatment goals and alternative options with your dermatologist. It’s important to know how missed doses, skipped sessions, or ineffective treatments may affect the overall efficacy of your psoriasis treatment.
Do not give up. Let your dermatologist know if you’re having trouble using your medication; use your medication properly and exactly as recommended.
Check out our Facebook page so you’ll never have to miss a tip on coping with psoriasis.
Follow MyPsoriasis blog for more good reads like this to learn all that you can about psoriasis.
Dare to #Ask4Clear skin so you’re empowered to do anything you want. Find a dermatologist near you today.
If you like this, see also: These 4 Warning Signs Mean You Need To Change Your Psoriasis Medication
Dr Ch’ng obtained his specialty training from the Royal College of Physicians in London. Subsequently, he obtained his Advanced Masters in Dermatology from the National University of Malaysia. He was previously the Head of Dermatology of the State of Pahang and Hospital Sungai Buloh.
His call to dermatology started way before he even contemplated doing medicine. His father suffered from severe psoriasis, and was in and out of hospital a lot in the late 1970s. His father’s condition made him see that skin disease is not just an aesthetic problem, as it can cause the patient and the entire family so much grief. His practice today reaffirms his belief, with many patients expressing deep relief and gratitude after their treatment.
Place of Practice
Dr. Ch'ng is a NSR registered consultant dermatologist. She graduated as a gold medalist from Univeristy Malaya in 2006. She obtained Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physician of the United Kingdom in 2010 and joined dermatology team in University Malaya in the same year. She completed Advanced Master in Dermatology (UKM) in 2014 and a visiting fellowship in Cutaneous Laser Surgery in Mahidol University (Thailand) in 2017. Her special interest include acne, psoriasis, urticaria, contact dermatitis/eczema and procedural dermatology.
Dr. Ch'ng started her instagram account @cccskindoc providing free skin care tips and education to public. She believes everyone deserves up-to-date and accurate information on skin care to embrace the skin that he or she is in.
Place of Practice
Dr Khor graduated from National University of Malaysia (UKM), Kuala Lumpur in 2002. He obtained his Internal Medicine specialty training from the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2007 and further subspecialized in Dermatology by obtaining his Advanced Master in Dermatology from UKM in 2013. Dr Khor served as the Head of Dermatology service for Perlis from 2013 to 2015 before transferring back to Penang. Currently, he is the Deputy Head of Department of Dermatology in Hospital Pulau Pinang. He is also a visiting consultant dermatologist at KPJ Penang Specialist Hospital and Northern Skin Specialist Clinic.
Dr Khor is active in academic activities, performing as an honorary lecturer for Allianze University College of Medical Sciences and Penang Medical College. He is active in research as well with the publication of original papers in dermatological journals and serves as a reviewer for Malaysian Journal of Dermatology. His dedication to the profession earned him Excellent Service Award from the Ministry of Health in 2009 and 2017.
Place of Practice