When the pandemic hit, life as we knew it was turned upside – activities like spur of the moment trips to the supermarket, travel and face-to-face meetings with other people outside of your household were no longer feasible. One topic seemed to dominate our lives, conversations and the news: the coronavirus, commonly referred to as COVID-19. COVID-19 reigned supreme throughout the year, bringing with it challenges, numerous restrictions and a new normal for us all to adjust to.
For people with psoriasis, COVID-19 presented some additional challenges. Psoriasis is chronic, meaning it requires continued care in order to manage the signs and symptoms of disease. But with the pandemic, like many other things, dermatologist appointments were for emergencies only and many regular appointments were paused. For me, especially in the first months of the pandemic, the question on whether I should visit my dermatologist or not arose again and again. With a dangerous virus impacting millions of people, I worried that by going to see my dermatologist I would expose myself to COVID-19. I wondered: Is visiting the dermatologist worth it? Is it safe to go see my doctor? Does psoriasis make me more susceptible to contracting COVID-19? I felt uneasy about visiting my doctor, so I cancelled the appointment I had already made and rescheduled it for a few weeks. At first, I thought COVID-19 would pass quickly, or at least I hoped it would.
My sense of worry led to me skipping numerous appointments. I now look back and can’t believe my symptoms did not get much worse during this time – I’m fortunate. However, I realized that with a serious disease like psoriasis, neglecting my care – and regular check-ins with my dermatologist who works diligently to ensure I reach my treatment goals – is not an option. I understand the perils of flare ups and co-existing conditions because I’ve lived through them, and I have made too much progress to risk my symptoms flaring again. So, I went back to my dermatologist.
To my surprise, I was able to schedule an appointment rather quickly, when usually it takes me several weeks. When I arrived at my clinic, everyone, including the doctor and staff, wore masks and there were fewer patients in the waiting room to allow for appropriate social distancing. When my dermatologist saw me and explained to me why sticking to my management plan was so important, I knew I had made the right choice. Many dermatologists are also offering telehealth consultations for those who are not yet comfortable returning to in-person appointments.
The pandemic has made a lot of people think, and for me it’s made me realize the importance of prioritizing my health. I was lucky my psoriasis remained under control during this difficult time, but for many, missing appointments can affect progress towards treatment goals. Dermatologists are the experts, and they are here to help us navigate this difficult time to ensure that we work together to follow the best possible plan to manage our psoriasis.
I wanted to share my experience because I know there might be someone like me who is hesitant to pick back up on their dermatologist appointments or try telehealth – but I wanted you to know it’s time to return to care. Curious about telehealth appointments? Here are some tips for navigating your virtual appointment.
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.
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.