Confessions of a Psoriasis Sufferer: Fears I Face Everyday

Patient Expert

Here are three scary realities of psoriasis I deal with these days. Can you relate?

Picture this…

For 15 years I hid my disease due to the fears of what others would think about the flaky, inflamed, crusty patches that invaded my skin. I hid because I didn’t feel like explaining and did not want to deal with the uncomfortable stares from those around me. Now, years later, I’m confident in speaking about my disease; I love answering questions and advocating for others.

But even with this newfound liberation, a fear remains: If/when I’m wearing clothes that show my spots, I fear that someone will take my picture without me knowing and post it on social media.

I recall seeing a picture that surfaced online featuring a man on a plane wearing a short sleeve shirt. On his arms were red, dry, patches of psoriasis. Without his knowledge, another passenger had taken a picture of his arm and posted it on Facebook. Along with the picture was a comment about how disgusted she was to be in his presence. The psoriasis community did not appreciate her ignorance or her insults, and flooded the post with accurate information and testimonies of having the disease.

While social media is a great tool for networking and marketing, it also can be a place for cyber bulling. I have reached the point where I am comfortable enough to post pictures of myself showing off my disease online, but I fear that one day others may take them and post them on their own social media platforms simply to be mean.

Body art: Not so pretty

I think body art like tattoos can be a beautiful way for people to express themselves or make an unforgettable statement in honor of another person or a belief. Because I’ve been 90 percent covered with psoriasis for most of my life, I never considered a tattoo; I knew there would never be a time I would show it off — my body remains covered most of the time.

Now that my skin has improved significantly, I have thought about getting a tattoo, but another fear arises: A psoriasis flare may occur in the same area as the tattoo.

The issue described above relates to Koebner’s phenomenon, in which trauma to skin via tattoo needles, syringes, cuts, bruises, or burns can reportedly cause psoriasis lesions to appear for those with the disease. Studies are still being done on the phenomenon, with opinion divided in the medical world as to whether the phenomenon as described by its namesake, 19th-century German dermatologist Heinrich Koebner, in fact works the way Koebner claimed it does.

Health insurance not so reassuring

I’m an entrepreneur in the midst of figuring out how to maximize my money as a newly minted business owner. While the benefits of running your own business and setting your own rules is pretty liberating, you also bear the burden of supplying your own health insurance. I currently have health insurance through the market place. My insurance is pretty good, and I also received a tax credit. But I recently received a letter stating that the particular health plan I currently have will no longer be available in my area.

It's no surprise then that I fear the changes and uncertainties of health plans in the market place will also cause changes and uncertainties for my health.

The number one reason I choose my current plan was because my dermatologist accepted it. Without insurance, a visit to my dermatologist is at least $150. With insurance, I only pay $50. This plan has worked great for me, is affordable, and covered the services I needed. Now I learn that it has to change. My biggest fear is not being on a plan that my dermatologist accepts, which means I would either have to pay big bucks out of pocket to continue to see her, or pick another dermatologist.

What are some fears you face every day with psoriasis? Head over to our Facebook page and let's discuss

Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog which highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. She is currently a post-bach student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistance—her passions are dermatology and sexual health. Alisha also shares her passion as a Social Ambassador of the Psoriasis HealthCentral Facebook page where she shares timely tips, stories and insights on living with psoriasis. You can also find Alisha on Twitter.