For some people with psoriasis, tattoos are a way to choose what appears on their skin.
Ashley | California
Tattoo: Her last name and the sun from the Filipino flag.
What it means: Located on the inside of her right wrist and forearm, the tattoo represents her Filipino heritage. "Soon after I got my tattoo I did have some scabbing from my psoriasis, but I was glad that it didn't affect how my tattoo turned out. I have plans to get more tattoos in the future now that I have a better idea how my psoriasis reacts."
Tattoo: She's had it for four years.
What it means: The area was covered with very small psoriasis for a short time while healing. I still love my tattoo. It's just that my (plaque) psoriasis decided to make sure it is unique. I was very worried while it was healing due to the rate it discolored, and even the tattoo artist didn't know what to do. I did do my research beforehand so i knew it was possible that this could happen. I have no psoriasis in the area at the moment and it has seemed to settle back to what's normal for me.
Amaris | North Carolina
Tattoo: Love with a capital "L."
What it means: "I wanted a daily reminder of what my life needed to be centered on. It makes arguments with family members rather fun as I, during tense and difficult moments … simply hold up my arm … It reminds us of what our motivator should be. The tattoo (at this moment) does not affect my psoriasis."
Bonnie | Michigan
Tattoo: A critter constructed of music symbols, including a treble clef, bass clef and many quarter notes.
What it means: Located on her left shoulder, the tattoo relates to her love of music. She has had psoriasis since her childhood and was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010. "I have not played my guitar since January due to the loss of my dexterity," she says. " I used to play at night and on weekends at a local restaurant. Since diagnosis, I've quit my day job as the executive director of a local community center and I now freelance as a business writer and PR consultant." Getting the tattoo in 2007 didn't have any affect on her psoriasis, which was mild at that time, she says.
Mark | Kansas
Tattoo: Celtic Cross and a date that memorializes a friend.
What it means: "When things happen in my life, I'll go talk with the tattoo artist and come up with a new idea," says Mehrer, whose upper body is covered with tattoos. "I have developed a strong sense of spirituality, or purpose, so a lot of the tattoos are emblematic of that." Mehrer doesn't worry about aggravating his plaque psoriasis, which is confined mostly to his legs.
Patrick | Virginia
Tattoo: Cross, heart, anchor and nautical stars.
What it means: "The cross, heart and anchor are Faith, Hope and Charity. The hearts came off our wedding invites. The anchor is because my wife is in the U.S. Navy. The nautical stars are set similar to the Southern Cross, which is also on the Australian flag (he's originally from Australia). The stars also have a meaning for sailors as a way to find their way home."
Jennifer | Massachusetts
Tattoo: Skull and crossbones.
What it means: "My tattoo represents rage, fear, and passion. At one point in my life, I had 80 percent plaque psoriasis coverage. Psoriasis has taken a lot of my confidence, my hair at one point and my dignity at other times. I am thankful every day that injectable medications have done so well, and I am down to about 5 percent."
Jody | Wisconsin
Tattoo: A music symbol entwined with her children's initials.
What it means: "My kids are my life. I love music, music is life. I entwined them. My kids names are Brandon and Rebecca. There is a B on top (and an upside-down 16th note). The R is on the bottom (along with a) treble and base clef. I have always wanted a tattoo but was discouraged by my dermatologist. On my 40th birthday (three years ago), I decided I was going to get a tattoo. I chose my left shoulder because, even in my worse case, my shoulder wasn't bad."
Kasi | Iowa
Tattoo: Pigtails, skull, heart and crossbones.
What it means: "Pigtails remind me it's OK to be beautiful, sexy, feminine and girly. The skull shows that it's OK to be strong. The heart reminds me to love fully without condition. The crossbones remind me there is a treasure at the end of the journey. I have had [psoriasis] flare-ups many times on all three of my tattoos and it hasn't affected any of them so far."
Kimberly | Alberta, Canada
Tattoo: The words "Novem Quinque," Latin for "September 5".
What it means: "That is the date that I miscarried my baby in 2010. [The tattoo] is all healed now and no signs of psoriasis yet. I was super nervous about getting it done because I notoriously develop psoriasis wherever I get injured. Part of the reason I chose my foot was so that it could be easy to cover up if I was to develop psoriasis there."
Mary | Wisconsin
Tattoo: A paw print and, below it, the name of her to her late, beloved white German shepherd, Hailey.
What it means: Located on Mary's ankle, the tattoo is a tribute to Hailey, who died Sept. 21, 2007. "About two weeks later, I had the tattoo done as a memorial to her life. I was diagnosed with psoriasis in June 2007 and had no idea about the Koebner effect (when psoriasis occurs at the site of a skin injury or trauma) when I got the tattoo. About two months after receiving the tattoo, I could see the start of psoriasis around it. Now the tattoo is unrecognizable ,and it breaks my heart. I am a dog lover and had wanted to add to the tattoo as our beloved 'fur-kids' passed on, but tattoos are no longer in my future."
Melissa | California
Tattoo: Part of a favoriate love song written in kanji, a form of Japanese writing, surrounded by rosees.
What it means: "It symbolizes the side of me which is a hopeless romantic and also the part of me that has been in love with Japanese culture since I was a child. I got the roses around the kanji just recently to represent the passing of several of my close friends," she says. At first, psoriasis was not an issue, but throughout the last few years, she's developed small patches in and around her tattoo. "In the past five years, despite having psoriasis, I have gotten into alternative modeling—meaning photos are a little more 'out there,' lots of people with brightly colored hair, piercings and tattoos!"
Robin | California
Tattoo: A wolf crying into the moon, with the word "Mom" under it.
What it means: Located on Robin's right shoulder blade, the tattoo is a memorial to her mother, who died three years ago. "She was my rock. It was the hardest thing ever to deal with. I wanted to have a memorial tattooed on me for her. She loved wolves and yellow roses. The tattoo artist did a great job of incorporating those two things." Robin also has a tattoo on her ankle with her son Darrin's name. Psoriasis "pops up" from time to time in her "Mom" tattoo and psoriasis "completely attacked" her ankle tattoo. "It is huge disappointment because tattoos are artwork and it seems like such as waste when the psoriasis attacks." Because of her psoriasis, she won't get any more tattoos.
Stephanie | California
Tattoo: Her father's initials and an Emily Dickinson quote.
What it means: One of three tattoos, this one wraps around her right bicep and is a memorial to her father. She also has a tattoo on her outer left thigh featuring flowers and a Virginia Woolf quote, and the word "hope" tattooed on her left wrist. Stephanie has plaque and guttate psoriasis, but chose to get tattoos despite the risk of further irritating her skin. "It's worth it to me because I see something that I like on my skin," she says.
Driving Discovery, Creating Community
This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. See how far we’ve come with this timeline of NPF’s history. But there’s still plenty to do, and we can’t do it without you! 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 funding to promote research into better treatments and a cure by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or even create your own DIY event. Contact our Patient Navigation Center for free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today! Together, we will find a cure.