This guide will help you easily understand psoriasis and its impacts after being newly diagnosed.
Getting diagnosed with psoriasis can feel overwhelming and bring on a mix of emotions. You could be frightened and angry to learn that psoriasis is something you’ll likely manage for your whole life.
These emotions are usually heightened during a flare — a period when symptoms suddenly worsen.
When I feel unable to cope, I refer to notes that I’ve made for myself since my diagnosis. These help calm my anxieties by reminding me exactly what psoriasis is and what role it plays in my life.
In this way, my psoriasis starts to feel manageable again. These notes and reminders are like a safety blanket I can always count on when I need some extra support.
But when you’re newly diagnosed, it’s hard to know where to start. How can you comprehend all the changes that will now be a factor in your life?
Here are eight of the most important things to know when you’re newly diagnosed:
Psoriasis is not “just a skin condition.” It’s a chronic autoimmune condition. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to be replaced more quickly than usual.
This causes skin cells to build up and appear as scaly patches on the surface of your skin. Inflammation around the scales is also common.
On lighter skin tones, scales are silvery-white and often accompanied by larger pink or red patches. On darker skin tones, scales can appear more gray in color with surrounding purple or dark brown patches.
There are different types of psoriasis, each causing variations of scales or patches to form in different areas of the body. This photo guide can help you see the differences. You might have more than one type, or one type may change into another over time.
There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but you can manage the symptoms. Remember, it’s definitely not contagious!
If you choose to treat psoriasis, you can discuss the different options with a doctor. Treatments are determined based on how severe your psoriasis is, how previous treatments have worked, and what works with your lifestyle.
Types of treatments might include:
For all treatment options, there are several types and formulations available. So if one topical treatment doesn’t work, don’t be disheartened!
Depending on your psoriasis, you can also try more than one treatment type at a time.
The most common symptom of psoriasis is patches of skin that are dry and covered in scales. These can be itchy and sore and may crack or bleed.
While fatigue isn’t the most well-known symptom, many people with psoriasis report experiencing fatigue. It’s thought to be caused by inflammation.
People with psoriasis can also develop it on their nails, causing discoloration and pitting. In some cases, nails may crumble or detach from the nail bed.
Psoriasis can raise your chances of developing other conditions called comorbidities. The most common comorbidity of psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis (PsA) which affects roughly 30% of people living with psoriasis.
Comorbidities aren’t commonly discussed with your doctor early after initial diagnosis. But being aware of them can help you identify other possible symptoms and help you and your doctor make better treatment decisions.
One of the most important aspects of managing psoriasis is understanding and focusing on your mental and emotional health.
Since the symptoms of psoriasis are often visible, it commonly impacts a person’s self-esteem and confidence.
Talking about your experiences can help relieve some of the stress of living with psoriasis. Getting support is really important. This might be from a family member or close friend, a mental health professional, or a psoriasis support group.
There are communities — like Bezzy Psoriasis — whose mission is to support those living with psoriasis and provide a safe place to connect with others who will understand your experiences.
Taking time for self-care is another way to relieve the mental stress from psoriasis. This could be a bubble bath, a face mask, or something as simple as going for a walk around the block, writing in your journal, meditating, or listening to your favorite song.
Psoriasis symptoms can start or worsen due to certain events or triggers. As you continue on your psoriasis journey, understanding your triggers can help you manage flares.
Common triggers include:
Getting dressed with a flare can be difficult.
There are two different types of comfort levels to take into consideration — physical and emotional. Are the materials and styles you’re choosing going to physically feel comfortable on your psoriasis plaques? Are you emotionally comfortable in this clothing and will you feel confident?
Clothing that’s tight against plaques will often cause discomfort and runs the risk of worsening plaques. The softer, the better when it comes to materials.
Breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or satin will let your skin breathe. Avoid synthetics that will trap heat, sweat, or feel rough. Breathable materials will let air through even if you decide to wear long sleeves or pants.
Being mindful of material and style choices can help you stay comfortable. Whatever your choices, remember that your psoriasis does not define you and is not something to be ashamed of.
Clothing and style can be a method of self-expression that can boost your confidence, so have fun!
Keeping skin moisturized is critical for psoriasis. But knowing what products will work for you will be a bit of trial and error.
Start by avoiding products that have ingredients like alcohol (ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and methanol), fragrances, or sulfates. These ingredients will dry out skin or irritate plaques.
Specific ingredients that are particularly good at treating psoriasis include salicylic acid, coal tar, aloe vera, and jojoba. This list from the National Psoriasis Foundation notes some good moisturizers to try!
There’s a lot of learning to do with a psoriasis diagnosis, which can feel overwhelming. Whenever you need some help, remember the importance of simple information. This guide is here to help you to easily understand psoriasis and its lifestyle impacts.
Medically reviewed on July 28, 2022
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