Psoriasis Around the Holidays: Managing Social Situations

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Next week starts the “official” holiday season. For many, this is a favorite time of year. The parties and festivities, time spent with family and friends, the feeling of appreciation for everything in your life and taking the time to give to those in your life all add to the enjoyment of the season. It is, for most, a social season. But for those with psoriasis, the family gatherings, the parties and even the trips to the mall can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

     

    Avoiding Social Situations

     

    A recent research study in Ireland revealed that almost one half of those living with psoriasis find that the social stigma of the disease is often more painful than the disease itself. A large majority of respondents to a survey (75 percent) indicated they avoided social situations because of their fear of what others would say about their skin condition. Women were two times as likely to avoid social situations than men. More than one half of the respondents stated that their psoriasis caused their self-confidence to decrease. [1]

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    Risk of Depression

     

    For some, giving up hobbies, staying indoors or hiding behind long-sleeve shirts and long pants, even during the summer time has become a way of life because of the possibility of hurtful stares and comments made by those that don’t understand. Instead, it has become easier to simply avoid social situations. But this also takes a toll on the psychological and emotional well-being of those suffering with psoriasis. The risk of developing depression is higher in patients with psoriasis than the general public - by up to almost 40 percent. [2]

     

    How to Deal with the Emotional Scars from Psoriasis

     

    In an article on EverydayHealth, Dr. Belisa Vranich, suggests that psoriasis sufferers talk to a trusted friend, relative or doctor about the shame and embarrassment. If you experience hurtful comments or stares, talk about how it made you feel right away. She also explains that you need to differentiate between hurtful stares and comments and those that are perceived. It may be your sensitivities toward your disease that made you assume someone is making negative comments. She suggests telling yourself, “I will not let this bother me,” and continuing on as if it did not or refusing to swell on the negativity. [3]

     

    Remember that psoriasis is like any other disease. With psoriasis, your capabilities are not impacted and you are still a productive member of society. Use positive self-talk to boost your self-esteem and remind yourself that psoriasis does not define who you are.

     

    Communicate with your spouse, partner or close relatives about how you are feeling. Let them know that shying away from you when lesions are showing is hurtful. Remind them that psoriasis is not contagious and use this opportunity to educate those around you about your disease. Let them know you need their support and talk about treatment options. For spouses and partners, you may want to include them in doctor’s visits or therapy sessions so you can better work together and learn how to manage your outbreaks.

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    Theresa Tierney-Bulger, a pediatric nurse with psoriasis, says, “While psoriasis used to define me, it doesn’t anymore. I’ve come to realize that sometimes people with psoriasis are more self-conscious or aware of it than other people are of the condition. The key is to learn how to manage it properly with the right treatment and supports and dress around it, so you feel comfortable in all social situations.’” [4]

     

    References:

     

    “Dealing with Embarrassment Podcast Transcript,” Date Unknown, Carolynn Delany, EverydayHealth

     

    [2] “Psoriasis Increases Risk of Depression, Anxiety, Suicide,” 2010, Aug. 19, Jessica Ward Jones M.D., M.P.H., PsychCentral.com

     

    [1] [4] “Research Reveals People Living with Psoriasis Avoid Social Situations for Fear of What Others Might Think,” 2012, Oct 22, Staff Writer, Abbott Ireland

Published On: November 15, 2012