Psoriasis and intimacy
When you're intimate with another person you want to look your best and feel confident. But what if you have the chronic skin condition psoriasis?
Red, scaly and flaky skin can make you feel anxious and embarrassed about the appearance of your skin, rather than sexy. If you have psoriasis and you're dating, you might feel awkward about sharing that you have psoriasis or worry about how the person will respond. A new partner might be unfamiliar with your condition and fear that it's contagious or feel unsure about how to touch you without irritating your skin.
Painful or itchy psoriasis patches on your genitals or other parts of your body can also be distracting during intimacy or cause you to feel so self-conscious that you avoid it altogether.
But many people with psoriasis enjoy healthy emotional and physical relationships with their partners. Here are some suggestions to help you cope:
- Talk to your doctor. If you're uncomfortable during intimacy because of your psoriasis, talk to your doctor. Take your medications as prescribed. Avoid using very concentrated coal tar on your genitals, as it can cause irritation.
- Love yourself first. If you're having trouble accepting that you have a chronic condition, you can't expect your partner to do so. Focus on becoming comfortable in your own skin. Your confidence will be contagious.
- Decide when and how to talk about it with your partner. Consider what will make you feel most comfortable. Some people choose to discuss their psoriasis with a partner right away. Others wait until they see how the relationship progresses.
- Practice and prepare what you’ll say. When you start a conversation about psoriasis with your partner, be prepared to educate him or her and handle his or her response. Your partner might have questions or make incorrect assumptions about your condition. Put yourself in your partner's shoes and think about what you would want to know.
- Discuss what it means for your relationship. Be open about how psoriasis affects your life. For example, explain that if you're having a flare, you might not be interested in sex. But you can find other ways to be intimate during these times so that you and your partner still feel connected.
Psoriasis might pose challenges, but don't let it get in the way of intimacy with your partner. Understand how to manage your symptoms and openly communicate with your partner. This can improve your self-confidence — and your relationship.
Jan. 05, 2017
- Feldman S, et al. Social impact of the burden of psoriasis: Effects on patience and practice. Dermatology Online Journal. 2014;20:pii.
- Lahousen T, et al. Differences between psoriasis patients and skin-healthy controls concerning appraisal of touching, shame and disgust. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2016;217(suppl):78.
- Starting a relationship? Don't let psoriasis get in the way. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/starting-relationship-dont-let-psoriasis-get-way. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.
- Talking to others about your disease. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/talking-others-about-your-disease. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.
- Psoriasis and intimacy. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/living-well/psoriasis-and-intimacy. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.
- 5 dating tips for singles with psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/blog/5-psoriasis-dating-tips. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.
- Genital psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/genitals. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.