What Not to Say to Someone With Psoriasis

Tips to Help You Navigate This Tricky Subject

What not to say to someone with psoriasisFor the millions of people who suffer from psoriasis, the social repercussions can be as uncomfortable as the itchy, scaly, painful patches of skin that define the disease. Since psoriasis is often pretty difficult to hide, and a flare-up can drastically change your complexion, sufferers tend to attract more than their fair share of long stares.

It can be difficult to know what to say to someone with psoriasis. Do you simply ignore their symptoms? Do you ask what’s wrong? If you’re wondering how best to proceed, the good news is you’re on the right track with your good intentions. Here are some responses to avoid — and how you can revamp them — to help anyone with psoriasis feel more at ease, and keep the conversation comfortable.

Phrases That Are More Insensitive Than They Seem

When it comes to visible health conditions, some things are just better left unsaid. After all, simply pointing out a difference in appearance will only highlight the fact that there is a difference, and that it matters to you. Of course, there are more subtle pitfalls to avoid, too.

Most people with psoriasis have fielded certain questions again and again, and depending on their level of patience, your innocent query could push them past their breaking point. Do yourself (and your conversational companion) a favor and avoid these phrases:

“Is it contagious?”

You could be forgiven for your fear, but this is one of the most infuriating questions to hear. Psoriasis may bear some resemblance to a rash, but it cannot be caught from contact with another person. Even if you were to touch the plaques, you would not be affected. Your chances of contracting psoriasis are tied to your genetics, not your present company; the condition tends to run in families, though it can pop up at any point in life.


“I’m sure you’ll beat this soon.”

Offering support is great, but it’s best to get your facts straight before unloading a hopeful message. Incredibly optimistic statements that aren’t grounded in fact are a bit of an insult: not only do they make light of a serious situation, but they figuratively put pressure on the one with psoriasis to overcome their problem. Unfortunately, psoriasis can’t be “beaten,” although it can be controlled with a careful, resourceful approach.

“I know how you feel.”

Clearly, your intentions are good. You want to show your sympathy and offer some reassurance to make them feel more comfortable. But at the end of it all, unless you’ve struggled with the many physical and emotional issues of psoriasis, you really don’t know how it feels to live with the condition. In turn, this statement is misleading, and can lead to disappointment or misinformation.

“I can hardly tell.”

Anyone living with psoriasis knows how the condition affects their appearance. Sure, their self-image may be a bit distorted (most people are pretty hard on themselves), but they can tell when their plaques and red patches are visible to others. Stating the opposite will seem phony, and that insincerity can be hurtful and awkward.

Next page: three more phrases that could make a friend with psoriasis uncomfortable, and the best ways to support a friend with psoriasis 

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