Dealing With the Stigma of Psoriasis
Hamid wears only long sleeved shirts to work and misses work whenever he has a bad flare-up. His colleagues avoid physical contact with him because they are afraid his condition might be contagious. Keng Boon loves to swim but gave it up after being kicked out of the swimming pool by the life guard because of his psoriasis.
Do these experiences sound familiar?
Up to two percent of Singaporeans suffer from psoriasis.i Many face similar humiliations on a regular basis. Dr Colin Theng, Consultant Dermatologist at National Skin Centre, Singapore and President of the Psoriasis Association of Singapore explains, “The stigma of psoriasis can be extremely crushing even though it’s not infectious. Due to a lack of awareness, many treat psoriasis patients like lepers and shun them. It is hard for psoriasis sufferers not to be affected when people flinch when they come into contact with them.”
The stigma of psoriasis can quickly undermine the confidence of even the most self-assured. Many people keep it a secret if they can. They wear long sleeves and long pants even on the hottest day and never say a word about their condition to their family and friends.
So what can be done about the stigma of psoriasis? Obviously, there's no easy answer. The problem with stigma is that it's fixed in the beliefs of other people. There's no way to single-handedly change them. But there are still some things that you can do.
Learn about the condition
Knowledge is power. Having a better understanding of your condition not only helps you cope better with the disease, but it makes it easier to explain it to others.
Talk to your family and close friends
Keeping it a secret and living in constant fear of exposure can add unnecessary stress. The impact of psoriasis is huge. Having to cope with it on your own is tough. Having a core group of people who love you and understand what you’re going through will help ease the hardship.
By educating others you take back some of the power. Tackle the fight against stigma one at a time! You may not win them all but don’t let psoriasis and those who are ignorant define who you are!
You are not alone! Don’t hide just because you have psoriasis. Join a support group and share your journey towards a better quality of life.
Seek medical help
The best way of reducing stigma is to take control of the disease. Whilst there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are breakthrough new treatments which can help you manage your condition. If you have not found one which works for you, don’t give up. Talk to your doctor.