Living with psoriasis is stressful. For some, that stress includes embarrassment. You might try to hide your psoriasis plaques with long sleeved shirts, wearing pants throughout the heat of the summer or keeping your hair long to cover your neck. You might try to avoid the stares or you might not want to explain psoriasis to others, many who don’t know anything about it and are worried about “catching” it.
Disclosing or discussing your psoriasis is sometimes as stressful as the symptoms you deal with on a daily basis. Remember, you are in control of what you say and who you choose to talk to about your psoriasis. You are in control of how much or how little information you give.
Some people find it helpful to have “scripts” they recite when someone asks about psoriasis or they want to explain their condition to someone in their life. You can have several scripts ready and use the one most appropriate for the situation, for example, you will probably give only a short explanation to an acquaintance and give a fuller description to a friend or relative. For example:
Talking About Psoriasis with Acquaintances
Acquaintances, such as co-workers or people you have recently met, usually want to know how you got it, how you take care of it and whether it is contagious. You might say:
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease. It is not contagious. Sometimes it flares up.
Psoriasis is a skin disease. It is an autoimmune reaction and isn’t caused by poor hygiene or anything I did. It is something I live with and will live with for the rest of my life.
You can come up with one or two sentences that explain psoriasis the way you want. Anytime someone asks you about it, you have a simple answer. Having a prepared answer sometimes lessens the stress of explaining what psoriasis is. Some people might continue the discussion and ask you questions. Usually this means they want to hear what you have to say or are genuinely concerned. You decide how much additional information to share.
Discussing Psoriasis with New Friends
You might feel uncomfortable talking about your psoriasis. If so, choose a time and place where you feel relaxed. If you are talking to a co-worker who you have developed a friendship with, you can talk during your lunch break, away from the workplace. If it is a friend you have met outside of work or someone you have begun dating, you can ask him or her to meet you for coffee or meet you at a quiet location where you feel comfortable. Make a list of the important points you want to discuss, for example:
- What psoriasis is and what it isn’t
- What psoriasis feels like
- How it impacts your daily life
- Some of your triggers
- How it is treated
- What happens during a flare up
If you are nervous, practice your conversation before hand with someone you trust, such as a friend or relative. This can help you decide how much information to share and how to say things to best explain your condition. Although many people with psoriasis have had a bad experience sharing information at some point, keep in mind that most people are caring and want to know what they can do to help you. Explain how they can be supportive.
You aren’t going to be able to share everything about psoriasis during a conversation with a friend. End your discussion by giving your friend the name of some books, publications or websites to find additional information. Let him or her know you can talk again and you will try to answer their questions.
Published On: April 15, 2014