Lifestyle factors and social life

In your teens, you're ready to make decisions about the person you want to be and the way you want to live your life. Psoriasis may complicate things, but don't let it hold you back. Teens often wonder how psoriasis fits into some of their choices, and ask these kinds of questions:

What effect does stress have on psoriasis?

Stress is a proven trigger in some people. It can cause psoriasis to flare for the first time or aggravate existing psoriasis. Relaxation and stress reduction may help people with psoriasis. For example, not only does relaxation help lower stress levels, but it also gives people a feeling of control.

Does the chlorine in swimming pools affect psoriasis?

Chlorine causes skin drying and irritation. Before swimming, it might help to protect your skin by applying a thin layer of either petroleum jelly or mineral oil to the areas with psoriasis. Immediately after swimming, rinse with plain water and apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp. Using these safeguards, you should be able to swim whenever you wish, unless your doctor has advised otherwise because of your particular circumstances.

Is it okay to spend time outside sunbathing?

Yes, most people get better when they expose their psoriasis lesions to the sun. However, avoid getting sunburn! It might make your psoriasis worse. Regular, consistent exposure times that do not cause sunburn are best. Make sure to use sunscreen on the areas of your skin that do not have psoriasis lesions, especially your face, ears, neck, etc.

Would body or ear piercing or tattoos affect psoriasis?

Psoriasis sometimes develops in areas of skin injury, particularly when the disease is flaring, so it may develop in areas with piercings or tattoos. However, this psoriasis will often respond to the use of topical therapy, as long as the area heals without infection. Always get these procedures from a professional under sterile conditions.

Can I participate in sports?

More than likely, psoriasis will never hold you back from participating in sports. Many teens that have psoriasis take part in many sports. The deciding factor is the circumstances of your particular case. You decide what is achievable.

What should I tell interested strangers about psoriasis?

What you say is up to you. In general, a short, straightforward medical explanation is fine. Most people want to know what it is, how you got it and if they can get it, and they may want to know what you do about it. You can give as much or as little information as you are comfortable sharing.

How much should I tell new friends about my psoriasis?

What you say, when you say it and how much detail you give about your psoriasis is always a judgment call. Aside from the medical explanation that you can give strangers, new friends will want to know about your treatments and the effect psoriasis has on you. Making new friends – real friends – means taking risks and revealing yourself.

You might be surprised by how supportive people can be once they know about you and how the disease affects you. Most people want to know how they can help. Be sure to tell them. Even friends with the best intentions won't know you need support unless you ask for it.

I want to get a job. How will my psoriasis affect this?

Psoriasis shouldn't affect your ability to get a job. Like friend and family relationships, work relationships require a certain amount of communication and honesty. Your co-workers may have questions about visible lesions, so be prepared to educate them about psoriasis. They may become a part of your support system.

Schedule a meeting with your manager to talk about how psoriasis may affect your work. The point is not to generate sympathy, but to come up with solutions for any problems that may arise.

What about dating? How do I tell a date that I have psoriasis?

It depends on the situation. There may be no point in letting a date know about your psoriasis until you know whether you're interested in developing an ongoing relationship with that person.

When you tell someone you like about your disease, you get a chance to see if he or she is worthy of your attention. Not everyone can understand that psoriasis does not affect one's ability to participate in a relationship. You can tell the person on your first date by sliding into the topic. You can talk about liking the beach or swimming and that the sun is very good for your psoriasis. You might mention a psoriasis-related appointment or event you attended recently. Whichever approach you choose, remember that everyone has something different about him or her – psoriasis just happens to be something that shows.

Is psoriasis a concern with regard to having an intimate relationship?

Intimacy is a very personal decision. For those who choose to be sexually active, psoriasis will be a concern if you have it in the genital area. It is mainly a worry because the psoriasis can become irritated, especially if it is flaring. Usually, you can control genital psoriasis more easily than psoriasis elsewhere. If it doesn't affect the genital area, it most likely will not have any physical consequence.