In honor of National Psoriasis Awareness month, Advanced Specialty Care’s Medical Assistant, Meghan Gomez, opens up about her personal experience living with psoriasis by sharing five things someone with psoriasis wants you to know!
What Exactly is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition where thick plaques or lesions form on the skin. The exact cause is unknown but thought to be caused by an autoimmune response and genetics. These plaques can form anywhere on your skin from elbows and knees to your face and scalp; psoriasis doesn’t discriminate.
Psoriasis is more than a skin condition though. It impacts the way I dress, the way I interact and even worse, the way I feel.
- It’s more than skin deep. Beyond the chronic itching, psoriasis often comes with joint pain and stiffness especially in the case of psoriatic arthritis. I might look fine on the outside, besides the skin lesions, but if I seem a little grumpy or if I end up cancelling plans and staying home, there's a good chance it's because of my joint pain.
- Psoriasis is not contagious. Genetic, maybe. Contagious, definitely not. You will not get psoriasis from touching my skin, borrowing my sweatshirt or sitting near me. We can go swimming in the same pool and eat chips out of the same bag. I know it may not look pretty, which leads me to my next point...
- Please don't stare. I know it's hard to not to but living with psoriasis makes me self-conscious and sometimes embarrassed about how I look. Staring only adds insult to injury. It has taken a lot of courage for me to feel comfortable going to the mall or grocery store wearing short sleeves with my psoriasis uncovered. I used to plan my wardrobe around hiding my skin, regardless of how hot and humid the weather. As I've gotten older, I've become more comfortable with who I am, skin condition and all, but when you stare, it's hard not to feel self-conscious about something that I have no control over. If my skin bothers you, then look away.
- It’s emotional. Psoriasis can make me feel isolated, excluded and judged. Stares from strangers, judgmental looks and comments about my hygiene or whether I'm contagious and being left out from social activities is taxing. Dealing with insecurities about how your skin looks and chronic joint pain on top of that can be downright depressing. This is why having a support system of friends and family is so important.
- There is no cure. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as getting a prescription and rubbing a cream on my skin. Living with and treating psoriasis is a team effort. It requires me to practice self care to stay healthy and reduce stress to avoid triggering my psoriasis. It requires support and understanding from my family and friends. And, it requires me to regularly work with my dermatologist to manage and ease my skin and joint symptoms.
Treatments for Psoriasis
There have been many advancements in how psoriasis is treated but there is no cure and treatments are not one size fits all. Treatments your dermatologist may prescribe include:
- Topical: Creams such as retinoids or medicated shampoo (for scalp psoriasis)
- Biologic: Injectable prescription medications
- Oral: Prescription pills
- Alternative/Complimentary: Light therapy and Vitamin D
If you or someone you know suffers from psoriasis, I encourage you to visit www.psoriasis.org for information on resources, events, research and support.
- Meghan Gomez, Medical Assistant
At our dermatology offices in Fairfield County, CT, Dr. Kenneth Egan, Dr. Rand Werbitt and PA, Jessica Mangiaracina specialize in all of your family's skin care needs in general medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Our offices are located in Danbury, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Stamford.
The thoughts and opinions in this blog are reflective of a patients’ experience and not necessarily those of Advanced Specialty Care, our doctors or providers. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are purely personal and perspective. This blog does not constitute or substitute for medical advice.