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June 13, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

What's dating someone with psoriasis like?

I met a really intriguing girl recently, but she's got it in a visible place. That doesn't stop my attraction to her, but she mentioned it during our first conversation.

I'm wondering what the options for resolving this are. Obviously it's an important thing for her, being a chronic autoimmune disease, and she's probably tried all the non-toxic options at this point. Like me, she's early 30s, so it's likely she's all freaked about trying more-toxic options.

How do I let her know it's all cool, and that I want her bod, keratin and all? Currently I'm considering just being blunt like that, but general dating-specific advice (including "be tactful, you fool") relating to this would help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Exactly like dating someone with dandruff or a wart in the wrong place. Except that it doesn't go away.

How do you let her know? "I want your bod." or, better yet, "How about lunch?"
posted by Night_owl at 7:35 AM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have psoriasis, and at the start of a relationship it's something that causes me great anxiety. Reassure her that it's not a big deal, but don't go on about it. If she wants to wear a silky nightie or peignoir in bed, then don't mention it unless she does. Don't pretend it's not there or that you don't notice it if her condition is obvious, because she'll probably find that patronising.

And, well, yay you.
posted by essexjan at 7:45 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have a mild case of psoriasis but, unless someone else brings it up, I don't tend to think about it. So maybe it would be best for you not to mention it and just treat her like you would anyone else.

On reflection, pretty much what Night_owl and essexjan said.
posted by antiwiggle at 8:38 AM on June 13, 2010

Compliment her as you would any woman you find attractive and wish to seduce, by saying true, specific things, like "The curve of your neck is so lovely" "You have such pretty hands" "Your ass is so fine it makes me want to jump you right here in the ATM line"
posted by theora55 at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2010

I've been dating someone with psoriasis for a few years. Honestly, after hanging out with him for a few weeks it registered for me as about the same as an interesting mole or chicken pox mark.

I think acknowledging when she brings it up is about right. Letting her know that yeah, it's there, but it just registers as a "skin quirk" is what I would suggest.
posted by superlibby at 8:40 AM on June 13, 2010

I would say the same as superlibby. It can be 'annoying' (for want of a better word - I guess I should just say 'noticeable') as my partner loses skin flakes all over the couch where he's been sitting. However we also have cats and it's not as bad as their fur getting everywhere! Other than that it's no big deal for me except that I feel sad for my partner as I know it causes him a lot of stress.

One thing that I've realised since we've been together is that psoriasis is a very common condition. When the topic comes up occasionally with friends, I'm amazed at how many people suffer from it to a greater or lesser degree. There are heaps of different treatments, some of which really work for some people some of the time, but there's sadly no magic bullet.

If you're interested in this woman, just let her know like you would with anyone else, no need to mention her psoriasis or your weird feet or whatever other physical imperfections you probably have (no offence intended). She's mentioned it, she knows you know, now you can both forget about it and get on with the job of getting to know and maybe even love each other!
posted by ask me please at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2010

I have had eczema my entire life that has affected nearly every part of my body at some point. There was a time back when I was 17 when I was hospitalized because it was so bad. I still struggle with it daily and have had severe bouts of depression due to the fact that I felt just plain unattractive.

My husband just acknowledges it as one of my flaws, just like crooked teeth or big ears. He tells me I'm beautiful even when I've got flaky red skin all over. Be prepared for her to be uneasy or even unwilling to attend events that require a swimsuit or sandals or shorts, depending on where her skin is affected. It's sometimes just easier to avoid those events entirely, rather than deal with the stares or the comments ("What happened? Were you burned?" I have lots of scarring from 30 years of scratching and steroid creams).

I'd say just let the relationship progress naturally as you would with anyone else without this problem. If she brings it up or expresses insecurity, just let her know that it has no bearing on your attraction to her and you like/love her no matter what. No need to be blunt about it.
posted by chiababe at 11:24 AM on June 13, 2010

I've had psoriasis for years. I have it on my arms, legs and some spots elsewhere. It is extensive and noticeable.

I'm going to comment on day to day interactions with people and then talk about dating.

I find that people want to stare, but don't want to be rude and ask. I'd honestly prefer if people just asked what it was. Then I can tell them what it is and their curiosity will abate. Little kids want to know if I have a boo-boo and will ask - this is fine with me; I've even had little kids walk up to me and stroke my arm and ask about it. It makes their parents really, really embarrassed. Then there are the people who know someone with psoriasis - they ask if it is psoriasis or eczema and then have a short conversation about it. The people I least enjoy are the ones that comment on how gross it is immediately.

There are a multitude of treatments for psoriasis - many of them aren't terribly good for you in the long run, some of them are quite costly, and some are unpleasant (gooey ointments, sharp needles, stinky gels). People also make lots of suggestions about something that helped their Uncle: pickled herring, fish oil, washing in diluted bleach, spirulina, washing in diluted vinegar, moisturizers, vitamin supplements, bathing in specific mud, and so on. Some things work for some people and not for others. It is sort of like treating migraines - you have to play around with the meds and sometimes they stop working eventually.

At the end of the day psoriasis is mainly a cosmetic problem (you do have increased risks for certain kinds of diseases: MRSA for instance).

When I played ultimate frisbee I would have to explain that my skin tore easily and that I'd likely bleed at some point in the game but that I had been recently tested for exciting blood-borne diseases and that people didn't have to worry about that.

When I date someone, I usually explain what it is and how I feel about it. I do feel bad about it in that I don't look good and I know that it is off-putting for boyfriends. I think that the best thing you could do if you were dating me was to ask about it and try not to make it sound like you were hoping it would vanish or get treated. That said, I think that not everyone is like me.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2010

My husband deals with psoriasis off and on. When it's bad, it gets really bad, but most of the time, it's just flaky skin. For us, it's become something that I help him take care of. So moisturizing, etc, is something I will often do. It becomes a bonding thing...
posted by bardophile at 11:59 AM on June 13, 2010

When he has insomnia, my husband sometimes scratches his head in bed, making the bed shake. We have to vacuum around his desk more than we would otherwise.

That's about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:54 PM on June 13, 2010

Either you are the new boyfriend of my friend Liz in Mobile, or the universe is just too weird for words.

Anyway, I can chime in and tell you that, as a friend of a person who has psoriasis flare-ups, that it waxes and wanes (the symptoms as well as her feelings about it) so you should just try to be attentive to how she's feeling about her appearance and ability to manage the disorder.
posted by Mimzy at 4:50 PM on June 13, 2010

I've had psoriasis for about 25 years. Right now I'm on Humira because I also have psoriatic arthritis and am almost 100% clear for the fist time in eons. I agree with those who say acknowledge it and move on (with one exception below). I was never overly sensitive about it, but even I was a little self conscious about it.

My last boyfriend was wonderful . He truly never seemed to even notice it and at the start of our relationship I was under a lot of stress and suffering from one of the most extensive outbreaks of my life. The first time we hooked up he just said how beautiful I was and when I mentioned that I had psoriasis, that it was nothing contagious, he replied "oh I just thought that they were some sort of birthmarks". In the 7+ years we were together, I don't recall him ever mentioning it again. It was as if he didn't even see it; which was great.

A prior boyfriend would make jokes about me leaving flakes all over his apartment and that bothered me. It's not like I was doing it on purpose. So dont' do that, and you don't sound like the type of person who would, but just in case, don't mention it. I realized that he was an ass in other ways, but that should have been the first clue. But even he didn't make a big deal of it otherwise.

The trickiest part and possible exception to the "don't mention it after it's been acknowledged rule "is if it's affecting her scalp. For many years that was where it affected me most. It would flake, and it looks like you have the worst case of dandruff ever. You might want to have a conversation about whether or not she'd prefer that you tell her when it was obvious (as it will be on the back of her shirt/jacket/sweater and she won't be able to see it, but everyone else will). I had yet another friend who would just quietly brush me off if he noticed and while I was a little embarrassed about it, I was grateful that he caught it before everyone else had noticed. The same if I had toilet paper stuck on the bottom of my shoe. I'd prefer that someone tell me so I didn't walk around like that all day. But everyone is different. I wouldn't just start brushing her every time you go out in public without discussing it.
posted by kaybdc at 6:10 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a woman who has psoriasis:

It's mostly cosmetic, although sometimes it can be itchy or sting, so you might want to avoid rubbing or touching psoriasis flare ups unless she tells you it is OK.

I can be self concious about it, but my preference is that my boyfriend ignores it - do a great job of complimenting her eyes, breasts, bottom, smile, laugh, jokes - whatever it is about her that attracts you to her.

I'm in a relationship now, but if I were single and someone said to me "Oh, I don't care about your psoriasis, I still want to date you," I would feel condescended to / patronised - it would really get me offside - I would think "Oh, this person is deigning to date me - what made them think they were the hottest person on the planet?" or I would worry that they looked down on me or pitied me.

Better not to mention it, unless she asks you about it directly, in which case you can reassure her that it doesn't bother her.

Re: scalp flakes on shoulders - my scalp is pretty much constantly flaking, and I'm resigned to it. I mostly deal with it by forgetting about it. If someone went around brushing off my shoulders, or even telling me there were flakes there, I would feel pretty bad about it - partly because I know that I can brush off, and 15 minutes later there will be flakes again, so it would feel a bit like rubbing my face in a condition that I can't do anything about.

Lastly, some psoriasis experts recommend avoiding trigger foods as much as possible - tomatoes, chilli, capsicums, citrus, berries, pineapple, carbonated soft drinks, chocolates, cakes, cream, icecream, tea, coffee, corn, potatoes, lentils, all dairy products especially cheese, vinegar, tomato sauce, salt, alcohol, red wine, champagne, spirits, beef, pork, red meat, sausages, processed meat, smoked fish, smoked meats.

So if she refuses one of these foods without saying why, don't push her or coax her to eat them.
posted by Year of meteors at 6:47 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

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