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Finding Love With Psoriasis: Sabrina’s Story
- By Beth W. Orenstein
- Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Do psoriasis symptoms make you feel self-conscious? Sabrina Skiles is proof that dating with psoriasis can still lead to a happy relationship.
Being self-conscious about her red, flaky patches made dating with psoriasis challenging at times, but it didn’t keep Sabrina Skiles from finding her happily-ever-after.
Skiles, now 29, has had psoriasis since she was a teen — something that at times felt like it stood between her and potential relationships, even friendships. “I thought people could see the psoriasis and wanted to talk about it but were too embarrassed to ask me what it was,” she says. Though she’s able to control her psoriasis with shea butter and thick moisturizers, she has patches on her elbows and scalp that can be itchy and unsightly, and experiences occasional flares.
Skiles, a mentor for the National Psoriasis Foundation , says body image can be a big issue for people with noticeable psoriasis symptoms, as it was for her. But she didn’t let psoriasis squelch her social life.
Sabrina met her husband, Chris, at work in 2007. He was a graphic designer at the Houston-based magazine where she was a marketing intern. “I came in two days a week, and they put me in his office,” she recalls. “He would talk my ear off — he still does.”
Chris, now 31, thought she was cute and wasn’t aware she had psoriasis. “I may have noticed a spot or two, but it never occurred to me that she had a chronic skin condition,” he says. “I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t a big deal.”
A few weeks into their dating, they went out to dinner in nearby Galveston. Skiles felt she needed to talk about her psoriasis before their relationship went any further. The two of them were sitting on a seawall at the restaurant when she brought it up.
“We were having a discussion about being honest with each other and where we were in our relationship, whether we were committed or still dating around,” Skiles says. She felt it seemed like the appropriate time to mention her psoriasis. She knew what she was going to say: that psoriasis is not contagious and that it’s a chronic condition.
As it turned out, opening up to Chris about her psoriasis made him more understanding and supportive , she says. “It didn’t change anything about the way I felt about her,” adds Chris. They were married in 2010, and his support continues to help Skiles, especially when she tries new treatments to stay on top of her condition.
Dating With Psoriasis: Having the Talk
There is no one right time to talk about your psoriasis with someone you’re dating, says Julie Nelligan, PhD, a psychologist in Portland, Ore., and past president of the Oregon Psychological Association who works with the National Psoriasis Foundation. It depends on the individuals and the circumstances.
Some people might bring it up right away, while others prefer to wait until a relationship is more established. What feels right for you may depend on how extensive your psoriasis lesions are and how easily you can conceal them with clothing and makeup. When scales aren’t so obvious, Nelligan says, you may feel like you have more leeway.
One advantage to discussing psoriasis early on is that you’ll find out whether your romantic interest is the supportive type. “If this person is going to be turned off by psoriasis, it’s better to know that sooner rather than later,” she says. You may not want to date someone who isn’t supportive of you, especially since psoriasis is a lifelong condition.
Nelligan recommends doing what Skiles did — giving careful thought to what you want to say about your psoriasis. Be sure you’ll have ample time to give the conversation the attention it deserves. Talk calmly and openly, and be prepared to answer questions your date might have about psoriasis.
If you’re nervous, you might want to have a mock conversation beforehand with someone you trust , says Nelligan. And if the real talk doesn’t go well, that person you confided in beforehand might be able to lend their support, she adds.
Last Updated: 3/25/2014
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