Speak Clearly: Perspectives on psoriasis

Early in my life, I started seeing signs of psoriasis. It all started when I was seven or eight years old, when a few red spots appeared on my skin. To be honest, it wasn’t a big suprise—many of my family members also have psoriasis—but that didn’t make it any easier. At first, the plaques only covered a small portion of my body and weren’t very noticeable, but as I got older, the affected areas became larger and more visible.

Fast forward a few years to my first major flare up: the beginning of puberty. As if this period wasn’t already awkward enough, now I not only had to worry about changes in my voice but also uncomfortable changes on my skin. My arms and legs were the main target of my psoriasis, which made me feel insecure and self-conscious because they were on the most exposed parts of my body. I was so ashamed of my skin that I worked tirelessly to hide it. No matter how warm it was, I often walked around wearing long sweaters and pants. I was repeatedly asked by friends and even strangers: Don't you sweat? Aren’t you hot? Each time I was asked this question, I felt what was left of my self-confidence diminish and my insecurities about my appearance sharpening.

Just in time for the next phase of my life and my studies, my psoriasis decided to flare. Although I’d made an attempt to come to terms with my psoriasis, it continued to take its toll on each aspect of my life. II was constantly thinking about what others thought of me and felt their eyes glaring at my skin, feeling out of place and judged. Living with this for so long had a significant impact on my mental health. Psoriasis was not just making my skin itch and flake, it was also hurting my social, emotional and physical well-being and had been since I was a child. The daily struggle with uncontrolled psoriasis isn’t just physical – it’s mental and social too. Because of my psoriasis, I‘ve missed social events, spent countless hours trying to hide my skin and constantly feeling ashamed of my body. Trust me, after a while this can really affect you.

It wasn't until later, when I started becoming more active in the psoriasis community through my blog, Farbenhaut, that I learned about the concept of cumulative life course impairment (CLCI).1 In short, CLCI is the belief that psoriasis can alter the path of your life—that over time all of the missed opportunties, days of school, work or other negative impacts, including the way the disease makes you feel, can influence your ability to reach your full potential.1 This made me think of the frustrations I have with my own psoriasis. I was tired of the way my psoriasis controlled my life and how that frustration had built up over time. So, I took matters into my own hands and made an appointment with a dermatologist.

Looking back now, I’m happy to say that a lot has changed since my first appointment. This is something I wish I would have done sooner. Maybe I was nervous to go to the doctor. Maybe you’re like me and you’re putting off going to see the dermatologist, too. Don’t wait any longer—your future self will thank you. If you’re feeling anxious about preparing for your doctor’s appointment take a look at this guide for talking to your doctor

To think, my journey with psoriasis started with a young child who noticed a few red spots on his skin. Along the way, there were a few rough patches where psoriasis brought me down, but I learned a few valuable lessons about how important it is to find a dermatologist specializing in psoriasis, collaborate with them on goals for your management plan (for me, that was getting back to feeling in control of my own life) and to find the best care possible for you. Now, I educate others on skin conditions and encourage people living with psoriasis to proudly share their story. Check out these stories from other people living with psoriasis. It may just inspire you to share your own.

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References:

  1. Ros, S., et al. Cumulative life course impairment: the imprint of psoriasis on the patient's life. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2014 Mar;105(2):128-34.

Get clear with your doctor

You deserve to feel confident in your skin, but how do you have a clear conversation about your psoriasis goals with your doctor? Sometimes speaking up can be the hardest part.

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Your voice makes a difference

Be clear about your goals. The power to speak up, feel confident and demand the best care is within you. Sharing your story could be your next step to feeling free from psoriasis—and possibly inspire others to do the same.

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