Dating is rarely easy for anyone. But when you live with a disfiguring skin disease like psoriasis, you have another layer of anxiety to add to the everyday stresses of finding a partner. For many people living with the condition, insecurities about their appearance and fear of rejection get in the way of romance. But having psoriasis doesnt have to prevent you from finding your happily ever afterand in some ways, it might even help.
Unlike sexually transmitted diseases, psoriasis is not contagious. But as with STDs, most people want to explain psoriasis to people they're dating so that they're prepared when they see it and understand they can't catch it. That's tricky, because you may fear that telling the truth is a one-way ticket to rejection.
At least that's the way Victoria Gardner Nye, 35, from Cambridge, Mass., sees it. “When I was dating, before I got married, my psoriasis had to come up right away for me because it was on my hands, face, and neck,” says Gardner Nye. “I was lucky enough to have that as an ice-breaker to see how the person felt about it right away.”
Timing is everything
Wait until you have developed some comfort with the person. Rebecca Ross, PhD, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, suggests waiting for the relationship to develop enough that you trust that the person will respond in a caring and respectful way. She says, “It is usually not a huge issue if the emotional relationship has been developed already.”
Krolikowski prefers to tell potential boyfriends in a confident and direct manner. "I explain that my immune system is misreading things and my body is producing more skin cells than it should. 'This is what it looks like,'" I say. 'It's not contagious, and I got it from my dad.' Then I try to answer their questions as best as I can."