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What My Son Taught Me About Psoriasis and Self-Esteem
- By Beth W. Orenstein
- Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD
When Jaime Moy is frustrated by her psoriasis, she turns to her son, also diagnosed with the condition, for inspiration. Get her tips for feeling comfortable in your skin when living with psoriasis.
Jaime Moy and her husband, Nelson, of Waterford, Mich., were going to Las Vegas to renew their wedding vows. She’d bought a short, sleeveless sundress for the occasion. But that was before her psoriasis flared. Suddenly, her arms, legs, scalp, and back were covered with plaques. How could she wear such a revealing dress? She was afraid that everyone would stare.
Psoriasis is a very visible condition, and its red, scaly lesions can make some people who don’t understand it feel uncomfortable, says Orit Markowitz, MD, chief of dermatology at Mount Sinai Queens, a community hospital in New York City, and an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The stares and comments from others can deal a blow to the self-esteem of people like Moy, who was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was 28. They can also contribute to emotional issues. People with psoriasis, especially women, experience depression far more often than those who don’t have the autoimmune disease, according to a study in journal Dermatology Research and Practice in 2012.
How to address the psychological and social effects of the condition is an important consideration for many people living with psoriasis.
Finding Support for Emotional Health With Psoriasis
Moy isn’t the only one in her family with psoriasis. Her son, Andy, was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis when he was 4 years old. He was covered with dry, scaly patches from head to toe the day he was meeting his new kindergarten teacher, and his parents wanted him to wear jeans and long sleeves, especially since other kids would be there, too. But Andy refused. He wanted to wear shorts and a T-shirt. “He said, ‘No. It’s hot out, and I don’t care what anyone thinks,’” Moy recalls.
Since then, whenever Moy is feeling low or embarrassed by her psoriasis, she thinks of her son, now 16, and the pronouncement he made that day. That gives her the strength she needs to feel confident with psoriasis rather than trying to hide it.
In fact, the thought of her son gave Moy the strength to wear her sleeveless dress to her vow renewal ceremony. “We don’t take many family trips,” she says, “so I knew I wasn’t going to have the opportunity again, and that if I didn’t go for it at that time, I would be sorry later.”
Moy says that her husband is also very supportive, but other family members periodically suggested that she cover her skin, and their comments have set her back emotionally. She remembers one particular instance that upset her: When one woman wouldn’t come near her, mistakenly worried that her psoriasis was contagious. There was no changing the woman’s mind, so Moy just had to walk away.
How to Boost Your Self-Esteem When Living With Psoriasis
“When you have any chronic condition like psoriasis, you need to surround yourself with people who care about you and will support you,” Moy says, who is a volunteer and advocate with the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). She recommends joining a psoriasis support group to help boost your self-esteem. One way to connect with others who have psoriasis is through the NPF’s TalkPsoriasis Support Community .
In addition to reaching out to others with psoriasis, there are more ways to boost your self-esteem. Start with these steps:
Psoriasis can sometimes take a toll on your emotional health, but it doesn’t have to. Remember that psoriasis is only part of who you are. If your psoriasis symptoms feel overwhelming, talk to your doctor to develop a plan that can help you feel better.
Last Updated: 8/20/2014
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