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How to Have a Better Dating Life With Psoriasis
During college, Karina Rabin’s peers called her ‘Polka Dot.” She says they ridiculed her because of her widespread psoriasis patches. “I was covered in dots,” says Rabin, now 37. “It was very hard to date.”
Her love life may have been hard to navigate all those years ago, but the Orange County, California-based entrepreneur’s dating woes are in the past. She met a man who wasn’t put off by her skin condition. Instead of running for the hills, she says he asked her smart questions and did his own research on psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches on the skin.
Today, the two are happily married and even run their own small business together.
Why Psoriasis Can Make Dating Difficult
There’s no question about it, psoriasis can be hindrance when dating, says David Pisetsky, MD, chief of rheumatology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. “If you have a lot of psoriasis in highly visible places, it can be hard to meet new people,” he says. “It can affect your mood and your ability and desire to socialize.”
Even supermodel and famous actress Cara Delevingne says she has experienced problems dating due to her psoriasis. “People would put on gloves and not want to touch me because they thought it was, like, leprosy or something,” she said in an August 2015 interview with The Times Magazine in London.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that people with psoriasis are at increased risk for depression. About 16.5 percent of people with psoriasis meet the criteria for major depression, and the odds of having major depression double among people with psoriasis, according to a study presented at the 2015 summer meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in New York. The public’s stigmatization of these highly visible skin lesions may be to blame for the increased risk of depression, the study authors suggest.
This can also lead to isolation and social withdrawal, says Julie Nelligan, PhD, a psychologist in Portland, Oregon. “People don’t want to feel rejected, and you may get a lot of that when you have psoriasis,” Nelligan says.
Dating Tips From the Pros and People With Psoriasis
Here’s how you can find your happily ever after with psoriasis:
Decide the right time to tell.The decision of when and how to tell a date about your psoriasis is an individualized one, Nelligan says, and it often depends on whether your psoriasis is visible or not. “It is a tricky dance, but you may not want to bring it up on the first date if it is not visible,” she says. “If it is visible, you may not have a choice.”
Rabin didn’t have a choice when she began dating her future husband. “Luckily for me, he understood,” she says. If you are dating someone who values you for who you are, instead of what you look like, this should not be deal-breaker, Nelligan adds. “Look for comments about how the person thinks and talks about other people,” she suggests. “If they are not very understanding of others, I would hesitate about sharing with them, or even dating them,” she says.
Consider covering flares until you’re ready to share.“I used to always wear pants and long-sleeved shirts — how embarrassing when it was hot out,” Rabin says. Still, many people with psoriasis will wear makeup or strategically use clothing to give them a little extra confidence when dating. This is a personal choice, Nelligan says.
Teach your partner about psoriasis.“Once you have divulged that you have psoriasis, take out your smartphone and educate your date on the disease, including the fact that it is not contagious,” Nelligan says.
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