Psoriasis, Intimacy, and Finding Loveby Alisha Bridges Patient Advocate
Growing up, I felt as though I would never find someone who made me feel comfortable enough to show my psoriasis to them. After all, I even had some family members who had never seen my disease. I was terrified of intimacy and the idea of showing my plaques to someone new. However, getting involved with the psoriasis community helped me to realize I was not alone in fearing that I would never find love.
Indeed, in a survey conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation, “nearly one-third of people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis say their disease interferes with their love life.” Psoriasis can affect one’s love life in a number of ways: it can sap your self-esteem, or you may worry that others will think the disease is contagious, or perhaps the disease makes you feel self-conscious about how it appears on your body.
Now in her 20s, Raven S. has lived with psoriasis since she was 5 years old. The disease often left her feeling anxious about dating when she was in her teens and beyond.
“In the past, love and relationships gave me a lot of anxiety,” Raven says in an email interview with HealthCentral. “Psoriasis plays a major role in one's self-esteem. My self-esteem was something I struggled with for a long time.”
Many people with psoriasis can relate. In a survey published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 74 percent of those with psoriasis reported that the disease affected their self-confidence.
Despite Raven’s fear of dating, she has found a man who loves her unconditionally and who has become one of her biggest advocates. “He has been there through the flare ups, moodiness, and fatigue,” Raven says, “and has celebrated with me during remissions and successful reactions to medications. He has even done his own research and looked into treatments that could help my skin.”
To someone who loves you unconditionally, your psoriasis won’t be a burden, a sentiment with which Christopher P. agrees: “They will either reject you for something you can’t control, or they are going to accept you for who you are,” he said in a phone interview with HealthCentral.
Now in his early 30s, Christopher was diagnosed with psoriasis when he was 12. Christopher met his wife, Corene, right out of high school, and she admits that, before meeting him, she had never even heard of the disease: “I had no idea what psoriasis was. I was only 17 at the time. I thought he was having an allergic reaction.”
Christopher hid the outbreaks on his body the best he could.
“I wore a lot of long sleeves, long pants,” he said, “so it wasn’t something that was revealed to her at first.” But hiding the outbreaks on his face was nearly impossible. So, early in the relationship, Christopher decided to show his psoriasis to Corene, which she fully accepted.
Both Raven and Christopher agreed that finding love with psoriasis may take time, but eventually it can be found.
Raven ended her interview with a bit of advice for those with psoriasis who are looking for love:
“There is someone out there for you who will love you for all of you, inside and outside. It may take time, but make sure that you find someone who can appreciate you and your psoriasis.”