Psoriasis and body image


Johnny Kazantzis was 15 years old when she woke up one morning covered in red, scaly patches that looked very much like chicken pox. It happened overnight, so her mom thought it might have been allergic reaction. But that same week, she was diagnosed with: guttate psoriasis. This psoriasis type They appear as small, round spots called papules. The papules are raised and sometimes scaly.

When she was a high school student, covering ups in places made Kazantzis feel incredibly self-aware and affected her self-confidence. In fact, she says that she does not have pictures from that time because she did not allow anyone to take them. The treatment was an ordeal, too.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was sent home with a set of creams—really greasy and gross—with instructions to put them on before bed and put them on the Saran Wrap to make sure they stayed on all night,” says Kazantzis, who is now 38 and lives in Princeton Junction. NJ: “I just remember that feeling of disgust and dread.”


Research has shown psoriasis can negatively affect body shapeSelf-esteem and quality of life. It may also affect files Psychological health And the reason worry in social situations.

There is often a level of stigma associated with the condition, according to Rebecca Pearl, PhD. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida.

“One of the common stereotypes documented in the literature that we hear from patients is the assumption that skin The disease is caused by poor hygiene, and people get dirty when seeing these bodily pests.”

Howard Chang, Minister Decree has severe psoriasis Since the age of 9, he says he was bullied in high school. There is still an incident in the boy’s locker room standing in front of Zhang, now 49.

“Two boys from the football team started going to me. They asked me if I had AIDS and they said ‘Get away from me.’ He says… ‘I thought they were going to be violent.’” “I was really depressed and socially withdrawn, especially during my younger years in college. “


Kazantzis had a very receptive and supportive group of family and friends. It was the assumptions and rude comments about her skin by adult strangers that left her feeling uncomfortable. When she was a teenager, she vividly remembers a middle-aged lady who reprimanded her for being on the beach with what she thought was chickenpox.

“A simple question could have changed the situation,” Kazantzis says.

daily challenges

Something as simple as choosing what to wear every day can be difficult. This was true for both Kazantzis and Chang. Each tried to hide his red color, scaly skin As much as possible.

“I was wearing pants until the temperature probably went over 80 degrees,” Kazantzis says.

For Chang, who grew up in Northern California, long sleeves and long pants or shorts became a wardrobe staple despite the scorching 105-degree summers. The only time he had no choice was when he ran on the track in high school, a sport he loved. Zhang just wanted to run but couldn’t feel “self-conscious all the time”.


“Always be careful” can have a negative effect on Psychological health And it affects the quality of daily life, says Pearl.

“These kinds of fears about being judged by others, or being rejected by others, are a form of Stress. This kind of rejection is expected from others [it] On one’s body or stigmatized traits, it can be kind of a constant threat in their daily life,” says Pearl.

Access to terms

Joining a faith fellowship in his second year of college and finding a supportive group of friends, along with his wife, was a turning point for Chang.

“I found acceptance there,” he says. “They saw me, including my skin.”

“As I got older, I accepted it psoriasis It was just a part of my life and it will be a part of who I am,” Kazantzis says.

While treatments like light therapyLotions, creams, etc pharmaceutical It can slow down cell growth and prevent the skin from peeling too much, no Treatment of Psoriasis. But there are steps you can take to make peace with your skin.


Start with self-acceptance. “I still don’t like psoriasis,” Chang says. “But I also understand that as hard as it was, it probably made me who I am.”

This does not mean giving up, Pearl says. Instead, it is a way of learning about the situation.

Even just saying it out loud, [like]“I have psoriasis,” she says, “and sit with that, because these kinds of statements can be really painful,” she says.


Join the psoriasis community. Connecting with others with similar circumstances helps remind you that you’re not alone and brings you “a sense of belonging,” Pearl says.

Kazantzis does this through her blog, Just a Girl With Spots, where she shares personal experiences living with and navigating with psoriasis day in and day out.

Chang has turned to blogging and advocating to share his journey — whether it’s doctor visits, new medications, or social stigma — with the online psoriasis community.

If you’re not sure where to start, visit the National Psoriasis Foundation website. You can also ask your doctor. They may be able to direct you to a local support group or other resources.


Playing sports And eat well. One study found that regular exercise may help reduce symptoms. if I were overweightLosing those extra pounds can help, too.

“It’s not just what you put on your skin, but what you put in your body. And also how you manage Stress and yours Psychological health. “Everything is just connected,” says Kazantzis.

Talk to your doctor before you get a new medicine Playing sports routine or my signs. You can always start with light exercise like walking and work your way up. If you have any Pain Or flare-ups of psoriasis, tell your doctor.

Practice vigilance. Perle says skin exposure exercises can help you become more accepting of your condition. This may include standing in front of a mirror – even for a minute.

“[N]Notice if negative judgments arise, such as about one’s appearance, and let them go and not hold on to them,” says Pearl.


You can also build body positivity by focusing on what your body does for you rather than what it looks like. It also helps describe new pest spots from an emotionally neutral setting, Pearl says. Mindfulness practices such as mediation and Tai Chi It may also relieve any stress you may have.

Get professional help. Tell your doctor if you feel depressed or anxious because of psoriasis. There may be new treatments you can try. They may also be able to refer you to a mental health professional. This person can help you deal with how you are feeling. If you are facing suicidal thoughtsCall the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist.


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