How to Support Your Loved One With Psoriasisby Joni Kazantzis Patient Expert
Because of the physical appearance of psoriasis, the reaction of others is often one of the biggest concerns for someone with this chronic skin condition. If you have a friend or family member who has psoriasis, your support and care will mean more to them than you'll ever know, and can go a long way to help them manage the disease. Whether its a child, spouse, parent, sibling, or friend, learning how to support your loved one will also help you to understand the physical and emotional challenges associated with living with psoriasis.
Learn about psoriasis
Psoriasis often is a misunderstood disease. Most people just don’t know what psoriasis is and why it makes your loved one's skin appear the way it does. With a little research, you’ll learn that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease -- that is it results from an overactive immune system -- and the cause is currently unknown. There are several different kinds of psoriasis and the severity and triggers vary from person-to-person, and from time-to-time.
Have an open discussion
Begin by asking your loved one how he or she is feeling and what he or she may need. Once you initiate the conversation, it’ll make it easier for you both to understand what type of comfort is needed or wanted. Your loved one may want you to come to doctor’s visits or maybe he or she is simply looking for someone to vent to about psoriasis. It may seem easy, but a conversation is the best place to start supporting your friend or family member.
Encourage healthy eating and exercise
Help facilitate a healthy lifestyle for your loved one. Encourage good nutrition and healthy eating habits and be a workout buddy. Instead of sitting on the couch watching television and eating a bag of chips, suggest -- and help make -- a healthy dinner of anti-inflammatory foods and take a walk around the neighborhood to catch up on each other’s lives.
Help with stress
Stress is a common trigger for psoriasis flares. It’s really easy to say to your loved one, “Don’t stress,” but it may be very difficult for him or her to actually relax and stop worrying. Life in general can be stressful, but add a visible, chronic skin disease, and it can be almost impossible. Ask how you can help reduce everyday stressors, or join your loved one in activities that help to alleviate stress -- like yoga or meditation.
Join a support network
Remember, it also can be difficult and stressful to care for someone with a chronic condition like psoriasis and to see your loved one live in pain. Connect with other caregivers online or in-person to discuss care plans, the challenges you face, and the concerns you have, and to trade tips and experiences about caring for someone who is living with psoriasis.
Listen and accept
Sometimes the best thing you can do to support someone with psoriasis is to listen and accept what he or she tells you. Most people who have psoriasis do not want their condition to be the single thing that defines them. Be there to listen to your loved one's concerns and allow him or her to talk about how he or she is feeling. Having a confidante to talk to is invaluable to many people with a chronic condition.
Be involved with the medical side of things
Sometimes dealing with a chronic condition like psoriasis can be overwhelming for one person -- there's a lot to learn about the condition, treatments, side effects, etc. Offer to join your loved one at doctor's appointments -- if only to make sure he or she understands information from the doctor -- and learn as much as possible about psoriasis (especially triggers) and its treatments.
Get outside together
Encourage your loved one to take walks with you or just sit outside together. Sunshine often helps soothe and heal psoriasis and can help keep vitamin D levels at a healthy range.
Be helpful at home
Helping your loved one stay compliant with his or her treatment plan at home is good for both of you, as it helps lessen the frequency of psoriasis flares. If possible, do what you can to think ahead and keep the bathroom and bedroom stocked with moisturizers and other things your loved one might need in a pinch. Helping with housework is never a bad idea, either!