Some people may be targets of bullying because of their psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Here’s where you can learn how to recognize it and what to do if you do experience it.
Although psoriasis might make your skin look different, realize that you did nothing wrong. It’s not you who has the issues, it’s them. Be proud of who you are, and even prouder that your uniqueness is what makes you you.
If you are experiencing bullying, the best defense is to recognize bullying for what it is, unwanted, aggressive, repeated behavior. Steps you can take to deal with it include:
Recognize that you are being bullied. Bullying can come in many forms. Common forms include:
Teasing, name calling, making threats, or taunting.
Sending, posting, or sharing harmful, false, or mean content through digital devices or different platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, text or instant messaging, apps, forums, chat rooms, or online gaming communities that spread rumors or embarrass you in public. This also includes leaving you out of activities on purpose.
Keep in mind that information you place on social media can be seen and shared by strangers. Be careful what you choose to share. For more information about cyberbullying check out stopbullying.gov.
Stealing or breaking your personal items, hitting, kicking, punching, spitting, pushing, or tripping.
Bullying is NOT OK in any form.
Remember You’re Not Alone!
Other people have psoriatic disease. More than 8 million adults and children in the U.S. live with the disease and face bullying.
How you respond to bullying matters. There are actions you can take to help minimize the impact you feel, reduce fear of retaliation, and above all else keep you safe. Click the boxes below to learn how to respond if you find yourself being bullied.
Calmly and respectfully tell the bully that you have psoriasis and that it’s not contagious. Use this opportunity to provide education. If the mistreatment continues, tell a trusted adult what’s happening. If that adult isn’t able to help, find someone who can.
Physically engaging with a bully is not OK because one of you could get hurt. Try to ignore the bully when possible and seek help. Find a safe place to stay where you can find someone you can talk with and who can help you.
Find Your Allies
Surround yourself with people who want to be your friend and respect who you are. This could be peers or even trusted adults. They’ll remind you how awesome you are. A word about peer pressure:
Positive peer pressure: Positive peer pressure comes from friends and those who love you. They encourage you to be your best self.
Negative peer pressure: Negative peer pressure causes stress and can force you to make decisions you’re not comfortable with. When you find yourself in this type of situation, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away. Learn to say no. True friends will respect your decision. This kind of decision-making is part of becoming self-reliant and learning who you are.
You could also talk with your parents or another trusted adult about a key phrase you can use when you are in a situation that doesn’t feel right. This could be as simple as a one-letter text message or a short phrase to use on the phone.
Ask For Help
It’s OK to ask for help! Being bullied can have a lasting impact on your life, so don’t feel that you have to try and fix this on your own.
Remember to find your allies: someone you trust and feel comfortable talking about the issues with or about your fear of retaliation. To help solve the issues, be aware that you’ll probably be asked to share details about who, what, when, and where the bullying took place. Talk with your parent(s) or dermatologist about finding a counselor or therapist, this can be a great way to work through your feelings and emotions in a safe, private space.
Bullying can increase your stress level, which in turn can make your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis worse. Again, find someone to speak with who can offer tips on how to cope and effectively deal with the bully.
Don’t let the bully have the satisfaction of impacting your life. Bullies often feel insecure and bully others to feel better about themselves.
If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by sending a text to 988.
While you may not want to say anything due to fear of retaliation, it can be important to report what happened in order to draw attention to the bully’s actions and help resolve the issues. Describe what occurred and share what you would like to see happen as part of the response. If the bullying occurs via social media, take a screenshot and share it with your parents or school staff to see what you can do to positively address the comments.
Talk with your parent(s), or if the bullying occurs at school talk with a teacher you trust, the principal, or the school counselor. Ask if you can provide a presentation about psoriasis to help your classmates understand that the disease isn’t contagious. No one can catch psoriasis from you. Chances are you’ll find allies who can help support you. Remember, you are your own best advocate!
Youth Living With Psoriatic Disease
Read and listen to stories from other teens and young adults about what it means for them to live with psoriatic disease.