rich emollient used in the management of eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.


I’ve been mulling this blog post around in my head for quite a long time but an article about one woman’s experiences of psoriasis I read in the Daily Mail online, highlighted by fellow psoriasis blogger Jessica (@jessnpsoriasis) had spurred me on to actually write it.

In the article the woman talked about her sense of despair and desire to unzip her skin. I think we can all sympathise with that feeling. I know when my psoriasis has been at its worst, looking in the mirror can be a very upsetting experience.

I recently joined my local gym having moved to a new area of London almost a year ago. My psoriasis isn’t awful at the moment but it’s certainly not in remission. I still have it on my arms, legs, torso, scalp, back and face. On the whole though, this doesn’t occupy my thoughts that much.

However, on my first day changing at the gym I very suddenly felt extremely self-conscious. I was in the women’s changing room, surrounded by complete strangers, not people who cared about me and knew what was wrong with my skin. My mind started running scenes through my head of how I would react if someone pointed out the red spots, or suggested that there was something wrong with me and I shouldn’t be allowed in a communal changing room. I then started imagining the staff asking me what was wrong with me, having to explain and being asked to leave. None of this actually happened of course, but I shocked myself with my own insecurity and what I can only explain as a sense of shame about my skin.

Judging by the comments under the Daily Mail article and discussions I had on Twitter with other psoriasis sufferers, shame and psoriasis seems to be something more universal than I thought.

There actually seems to even be a link in literature. A few years ago I read the book “The Crimson Petal and The White” by Michel Faber. It’s a modern day novel set and written in the style of the Victorians. The book tracks the ascent of the main character, a young prostitute called Sugar. What was so striking is that the author gave Sugar psoriasis. He clearly knew something about it as he writes in details like hot bathes making it worse. I’m no English Literature expert but many have linked his use of psoriasis as being a physical manifestation of the shame and corruption of her work as a prostitute. It’s an interesting literary tool but was quite surprising to me as a reader. It also, sadly, serves to reinforce the idea that there is something shameful and dirty about psoriasis.

The Daily Mail article quotes, but does not reference, a statistic about 150 suicides a year being linked to psoriasis. I must say I found this statistic extremely shocking and I dearly hope, inaccurate. Shame can be a powerful emotion.

If you are reading this and feel shame or despair please talk to someone you care about and your GP. There are treatments available to help psoriasis.

No one should feel shame about psoriasis. It’s not your fault you have it. It’s not dirty. It’s an autoimmune disease that can affect the skin. The more we all understand what it is the more we can feel empowered to cast aside any sense of shame or despair. It’s not just your skin that makes you beautiful.



Jennifer White is a public affairs consultant who specialises in health at Lexington Communications. She has had psoriasis her whole life and is keen to share her experiences with others in the hope it might help them feel better about the condition. She regularly tweets on health policy and can be followed @JOCWhite.

6 Responses to Psoriasis and shame

  1. louise small-hunnybun325

    its good that psoriasis gets acknowledged in the book, even though in that sense! other people who read it that actally know some1 who suffers from it might just begin2 understand how this horrible (i wont say disease), skin disorder actually makes us feel! anything that educates people about psorasis must be good, surely?! docters dont acknowledge the fact that it effects us emotionally as well as physically. more could be+should be done! even the GP’s dont often know much about psorasis.

  2. Very well said. Shame eats in to so many people’s lives and it is such a destructive emotion. You have written really well about a complex and challenging issue.

  3. i was just diagnosed with psoriais ,and the doctor gave me a cream calle dovelat, is there any creams i could buy that are better than this one , im gutted i have this

    • Hi Paul, my knowledge of the creams on the market at the moment isn’t great – if you feel the cream isn’t working make sure you tell your doctor and they should be able to prescribe you something else. I’m so sorry that you are upset about the diagnosis but please try not to let it upset you too much. Its a frustrating condition but there is so much more to you than just your skin.

  4. Psoriasis

    M Really Appreciate with your post.U Create post about psoriasis is Very Effective and Helpful.Thanks a lot for Share this Fantastic Post…….
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  5. Peter

    I involved with psoriasis from 1961(51 yrs ago)when I met my future wife. She had in serious form plaque p from her 9yo. At that time we did the same what patients of p do now. We went at the same exclusive circkle: clinics, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and then at second circle and… But and result was the same that now, that is nothing. Thank God we in time understood not only useless go at that circle but very dangerous in addition to p to take some chronic diseases, for example diseases of liver, kidneys, pancreas… I read thousands email and no one ask medicine for cure p but only two questions – about side effects and how to take p under control. That is signifying that patients lost hope to cure p. Very sadly. In spite of those that we have slightly more then 20yo and without any experience we desided to seek medicine ourselves. We passed through very difficult time espetially after my wife born our first child in 1966. Her skin at 90% was covered by p. But in 1977 (35!! ago)our work crowned by saccess. We cured my wife and from those time disease never renew. Everything else by my please. That way is more comfortable for me.

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