What to Do When People Are Rude About Your Psoriasis

When you have psoriasis, you can get some pretty blunt, impolite questions and comments from people who don't understand. Luckily, there are some things you can say and do to feel better.

“It helps to have some quick and simple responses ready,” says Julie Nelligan, PhD, a psychologist and assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University.

You might hear: “Is it contagious?”

People with psoriasis get this question a lot, says Carolyn Jacob, MD. In addition to serving as director at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology in Illinois, she has the autoimmune disease.

“It's understandable that others don't want to catch something,” she says. “But it still hurts, because if your rash was contagious, of course you wouldn't expose others to it.”

Brittany Ineson of Queens, NY, understands why others might be cautious, especially when her psoriasis is really flaring. A doctor diagnosed her recently with severe plaque psoriasis that covered 90% of her body. She even had flare-ups on her palms and bottoms of her feet. And that can be alarming to someone who doesn’t know what it is.

What you can do:

When someone asks Jacob if her skin problem is contagious, she usually says, “No, I have psoriasis, which is a genetic condition. You can't catch it.”

Ineson gets a lot of stares, she says, but most people are more curious than mean. She often approaches the subject first and asks others if they’d like to know more about her red, flaky patches. This tactic works much better than getting nasty and lashing out, she says.

“I find that when I’m calm, they’re calm,” she says.

In an effort not to make others uncomfortable or anxious, she tries to hide her angry-looking outbreaks with clothes. She wears long sleeves in the summer. She realizes that people who have never seen psoriasis might be fearful of touching her, so she assures them that there’s no reason to be afraid.

You might hear: “What's the big deal? It's just a rash.”

Yes, psoriasis can be itchy and aggravating. But what many people don'trealize is that it's a serious health condition.