Saving Face in Social Situations
Itchy, red, flaking patches of skin tend to stand out, and that can make things pretty difficult for psoriasis sufferers. Beauty is an aspect of modern culture, and society certainly has ideas of what belongs and what doesn’t; if you look different or ill, you can be made to feel like an outcast, and that will affect every corner of your life.
You can’t cure your psoriasis, but just as you can treat your symptoms, you can treat the interactions that surround them. Learn how to adjust your responses for more comfortable socializing, and what you can do to reduce psoriasis stigma and the damaging effects it brings.
Plan for Uncomfortable Confrontations
The more you know about your condition, the better you will be able to handle embarrassing moments, and the quicker your family and friends will begin to sympathize with the reality of your psoriasis.
Learn the mechanics behind your body’s autoimmune response, including why and how your skin overproduces skin cells, so you can clearly relate that info if the situation arises. When you’re able to communicate easily and intelligently, more people will listen; losing your cool will only make things more uncomfortable for everyone.
Of course, not every situation will warrant a lecture, or allow for a long-winded response. Having an arsenal of stock answers will help you get through these uncomfortable (and insensitive) comments and questions quickly, without getting impatient or feeling worse about yourself:
Is it contagious?
Probably one of the most common questions, but also the most bothersome for the psoriasis sufferer. The best way to handle the query is with a straightforward, “No, it’s a genetic condition not an infection.” Genetic conditions aren’t threatening to other people, and so they’ll be relieved to hear that your visible symptoms aren’t communicable.
Is it safe to be intimate?
Psoriasis commonly affects the genitals, and although it can feel itchy and look serious, it’s still perfectly safe to be intimate. However, it’s completely understandable for your partner to be wary, and you should take the opportunity to discuss how the symptoms will and won’t affect the experience. Don’t dance around the matter; be clear, open, and inviting with your partner.
Do you bathe enough?
To the non-sufferer, psoriasis can look like a bacterial infection or dirt build-up, especially when it affects the scalp and ears. While most people know better than to question somebody’s grooming, there’s a chance you’ll meet an outspoken person who asks the hurtful question.
You can either shut them down with, “I’m afraid I don’t have the time to explain it to you,” or emphasize the fact that it has nothing to do with cleanliness. Just try not to lash out with a long-winded response designed to make them feel terrible – that’s bound to land you in a heated and defensive conversation.
Next page: seeking support, and tips for increasing your confidence.