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7 People Share What It’s Really Like to Live with Psoriasis

By Lauren Krouse
December 06, 2021

After getting diagnosed with psoriasis, it’s common to struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, shame, or embarrassment. In the beginning, worries over what people might think when they see signs of a flare-up, like flakes or patches, can be deeply isolating. You might even find yourself going out less or avoiding activities you once loved.

But another common step in the journey of life with psoriasis is discovering that you aren’t alone. Whether you find your people in a support group, scrolling through Instagram, or on our psoriasis community, it can be so empowering to realize you’re part of a community. When shared, frustrations and challenges are easier to deal with. And moments of joy and successes feel even better when you get to celebrate with people who understand what you’re going through.

In this spirit, we asked seven people to tell us they have psoriasis without telling us they have psoriasis—in other words, to share the experiences they have that other members in the community would recognize. Here’s what they said.

1. You’re Always Ready with a Response

“I’ve heard ‘celery juice really cleared mine up!’ more times than you can count.”

Sabrina Skiles, 37, of Broomfield, Colorado, says she’s used to getting unsolicited tips about miracle cures for “dry skin” as if they’d work for psoriasis. But this freelance health writer and patient advocate sees these as teachable moments.

A sample script: “Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it affects the immune system—therefore making it more complicated than something celery juice can clear up,” she says she explains to people. “Though there isn’t a cure for psoriasis just yet, there are a lot of options for those of us living with it to manage our symptoms.”

2. You’ve Done Your Skincare Product Prep Work

“I always have a moisturizer in my bag.”

Before important meetings or work, Claire Elizabeth, 24, a junior sommelier in Essex, England, does a quick check for spots that need moisturizer. “And I’m always that little bit late because I’m looking in the mirror making sure there are no flakes in my hair or dry skin on my body,” she says.

3. You Avoid Handshakes

“Even pre-pandemic, I avoided shaking hands with people at all costs, to the point of coming across as rude, because of the blisters on my palms.”

Before COVID-19, handshakes were to be expected, especially in a professional setting. But Samantha Harman, 32, a personal stylist in Oxford, England, made a habit of skipping this formality to avoid irritating psoriasis patches on her hands. “To be honest, I think I probably came across as a bit standoffish,” she says. “But as I got older, I just learned to embrace it.”

4. You Make Strategic Clothing Choices

“I wear a gray cardigan so I can hide the ‘lint’ on my shoulders.”

People with psoriasis tend to get strategic about their choice of clothing, so they can stay comfortable and confident. “Although I wear mostly black clothing, I have a trusty gray cardigan that I keep with me,” says Laken Brooks, 26, a doctoral student and graduate teaching and research assistant in Gainesville, Florida. “So when someone points out that I have something on my shoulders, I can play dumb and say, ‘Oh, must be some lint!’”

5. You Treat Your Elbows with TLC

“When I bump my elbow on something, it immediately starts bleeding—because of the patch there.”

For Mohammed Khan, 24, a digital marketer in Ontario, Canada, the essence of life with psoriasis is just how easy it is to disrupt sensitive skin patches. To protect himself from unexpected run-ins, he says he uses Skin Salvation by Balmonds, a 100% natural beeswax-based ointment.

6. You Wear Long Sleeves, No Matter the Weather

“I’ve developed a sense of style around wearing long-sleeved shirts.”

Jo-Anne Lagotang, 31, a medical technologist based in Talisay, Philippines, says she wears long-sleeved shirts even on hot days to protect her skin and hide plaques. What started as a way to cope with symptoms has become a personal fashion statement that helps her feel confident without compromising comfort.

7. You Find a Path to Self-Love

“I’m on a long journey of acceptance, growth, and self-love.”

Jasmine Preko, a 19-year-old student in London, says she’s struggled with negative self-talk in front of the mirror. “It can be hard to accept that your scars and bruises will be on your body for a long period of time,” she says. “However, after therapy and making the decision to be kinder to myself, I have learned to accept and embrace the fact that I look different, and that is a beautiful thing.”

Words of encouragement from others help, too. She posts about her experience with psoriasis on social media. “[Others with psoriasis] remind me that I am not alone in this and that I am helping other people to get out of the space that I used to be in,” she says. “The psoriasis community is so warm and welcoming, and we are all in this together, trying to raise awareness and trying to help fellow sufferers feel good within themselves.”

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