5 tips on improving quality-of-life for psoriasis patients

| Melissa Leavitt
Richard Fried, M.D., of Yardley Dermatology Associates in Yardley, Pennsylvania, is a dermatologist and a psychologist. Early in his career, Fried recognized that a person’s skin condition affected their emotional state — and that a state of emotional distress could show up as a skin flare
The impact of conditions like psoriasis can ripple out into every area of life, including work, relationships and even a person’s private thoughts and feelings. “I think that the mind and skin are almost never separated,” Fried says.
Fried, who is also a member of the NPF medical board, offers five tips to his fellow dermatologists to help their patients overcome the emotional impact of psoriasis:
1. Let your patients know you understand what they’re going through.
Fried takes a few moments of the office visit to find out whether someone is having trouble coping with their disease. “Sometimes by just giving one or two more seconds of eye contact and asking that direct question, ‘Is it tough? Do you hate it?’ you have communicated to them that you get it. You understand that this can be a devastatingly difficult thing to live with,” he says.
2. Teach patients how to manage stress and anxiety.
“What can I do to make people feel less of a sense of dread and more hopeful and optimistic? Give them tools,” Fried says. Stress-management strategies that can make patients feel more empowered include mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi or therapy, Fried says.
3. Keep in mind that telling patients to manage their stress can make them more stressed out.
It’s important to assure patients that if they still continue to flare after starting these strategies, “it’s not their fault because they failed to manage their stress and distress well enough,” Fried says. Many things can trigger a flare, not just stress.
4. Point your patients toward the right resources.
If a patient opens up to you about their depression, refer them to a specialist in skin-emotion issues. “I always advise dermatologists and primary care docs, ‘Align yourself with someone who’s got a strong interest in skin, be they psychologists, be they psychiatrists, be they social workers.’ And that way they are at your disposal to refer patients to,” he says.
5. Recognize there is more to psoriasis than meets the eye.
“We never dare to be so audacious as to assume that we can assess psychological impact based on clinical severity,” Fried says. Even patients with mild psoriasis may feel an extreme emotional impact from the disease.
He believes all dermatologists are equipped to relieve the emotional burden of psoriasis.
“Anytime we express a true understanding and empathy, we are doing psycho-dermatology and we are helping people to heal,” Fried says.  
More resources

Download this free fact sheet on the emotional impacts of psoriatic disease.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

Recent Advance Posts

doctor facing patient across desk
The Corrona Psoriasis Registry will give health care providers the data needed...
Charlotte Community
Researcher Charlotte Hurabielle-Claverie, M.D., finds joy in unraveling the...
hand with arthritis on mouse beside keyboard
We take many common movements and activities for granted – until they become...
Shujahn family
Derek Schujahn turns helplessness into motivation and raises money for NPF in...
Psoriasis sunscreen tips
Just in time for summer, expert tips to help you stay safe in the sun.
Stephen Katz
Six longtime members of our community remember Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., a...
Patients are looking to 2020 for utilization management reform in the Golden...
Michelle Strangis
NPF volunteer Michelle Strangis has employed her decades of law expertise to...
genital psoriasis
One in four of you will experience genital psoriasis. Relief starts with having...