Psoriasis can be an obstacle in your sex life.
My psoriasis often makes its own introduction to another person before I have a chance to bring it up. It might announce itself while I’m on a date, with a flaky, itchy, patch of inflamed skin on the back of my hand or on my face — areas that are hard to hide. Shame and embarrassment can make it difficult for those of us living with psoriasis to share the details with potential partners.
So, once you’ve met someone you feel compatible with, when is the right time to broach the topic?
Trust your instincts
There’s no one answer for everyone here. Choose a moment that feels right to you. This might mean sharing it on the first date with someone just to get it out in the open, or it might not feel comfortable until date number five. There is no right or wrong approach.
“The conversation doesn’t have to be super awkward or super serious," says Nicosia Davis, a family counselor in Huntsville, Alabama, in an email interview with HealthCentral.
Davis suggests looking for qualities in your potential partner that indicate you can trust them with some information about your health — if they seem compassionate and display self-control, for example. If a potential partner seems to be rushing things along physically or doesn’t seem trustworthy, Davis says, proceed with caution. It also helps to observe how they answer open-ended questions, even general questions about their knowledge of psoriasis, eczema, or other chronic illnesses. If they seem receptive, give them some more details about what’s going on with your body.
Don’t wait too long to bring it up
Davis suggests mentioning your condition to a potential partner as soon as possible. For me personally, I would tell a partner about psoriasis before becoming intimate with them. This is especially the case when dealing with genital psoriasis, which could resemble sexual transmitted diseases. You don’t want to be in the middle of a hot and steamy kissing session only for it to be interrupted by psoriasis.
“Get creative with discussing psoriasis before intimate moments,” Davis says.
What should I say?
I have a stock description of psoriasis: “It is a non-contagious autoimmune disease that affects my skin. It’s due to an overreactive immune system, which causes my body to create skin cells I don’t need. Dead skin builds on top of good skin causing itchy, flaky, inflamed patches called psoriasis.”
If the person I’m talking to isn’t familiar with psoriasis and is curious about it, I usually share websites or links they can check out.
How much information is too much?
How much you share depends on how comfortable you are with the person you’re with. For example, I wasn’t comfortable telling my partner up front about the dried blood that normally ends up on my sheet after a night of sleep, the fact I could sweep my dead skin flakes up in a pile, or that my house can get dustier than normal because of my increased number of dead cells skin. Davis advises: “Too much information would be: Before you know his/her name, sending a picture of a psoriasis flare. Give a potential partner information bit-by-bit until they are comfortable with the information. Educate them on the disorder and your medication. Use a flare-up to educate them on what is going.”
You must decide what works for you. You don’t have to tell a partner every single intimate detail all at once, you can gradually build trust with them along the way.
For additional resources on psoriasis and sex, share the National Psoriasis Foundation and Overcoming Psoriasis, a Facebook support group for people living with the condition as well as their loved ones, with partners.
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Alisha Bridges is a freelance health writer on the topics of sexual health, skin care, and psoriasis. She has lived and thrived with psoriasis for over two decades. Alisha is the creator of www.Beingmeinmyownskin.com, a site dedicated to sharing what it’s like to live with psoriasis. She is also a student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a physician assistant with a concentration in dermatology. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @alishambridges.