People living with psoriasis experience many challenges stemming from their disease, including itchy and flaky skin, pain, flares, fatigue and impacts on their mental health. All of these challenges can impact their intimate lives, including their relationships, their emotions, and their sex lives.
The Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients (CAPP) launched PsoIntimate, a national campaign to bring the impacts of psoriasis on people’s intimate lives out of the shadows. Drawing from conversations during the campaign, CAPP has published practical advice to patients and their partners about how to navigate the impacts of psoriasis on intimacy.
Psoriasis is fairly common. Up to 3% of people in Canada live with the disease, and its potentially devastating impacts can interfere with a healthy and satisfying intimate life.
Caring for your skin
Sexual activity is an important part of the human experience. Caring for your psoriasis and seeking treatment can support a healthy sex life. Psoriasis patients’ quality of life can be significantly impacted if they have psoriasis on their genitals. A clear diagnosis is an essential first step towards treatment and care of this sensitive area of the body – and to improving your intimate life. When taking a medical history, your healthcare provider may ask you details about whether psoriasis runs in the family, your sexual activity, and skin lesions in other areas.
It is important to remember that you can still enjoy being intimate if you have genital psoriasis. CAPP Medical Advisor Dr David Adam says ”You can reduce irritation by following some basic steps: proper moisturization and lubrication, avoid scented products, and reducing chaffing by wearing soft and comfortable underwear and loose fitting clothing. Most importantly, discuss this problem with your dermatologist as safe and effective treatments exist for genital psoriasis that can control the problem.”
If you have to wait out a flare, there are many options to maintain intimacy, while avoiding the area of skin that is flared up.
Caring for your emotions
In a new relationship, it is important to communicate to your partner that psoriasis is not contagious and to have some conversation about the condition. If your psoriasis is visible, it may not be as important to divulge your diagnosis. If it is in covered places on your body, it may be more important to bring it up before becoming intimate.
While not widely known, psoriasis can make people feel tired, which can in turn impact people’s intimate lives. If your partner lives with psoriasis, their disease may make them feel tired: it’s not you, it’s their psoriasis.
“Finding a hobby you love and staying active are two important ways to keep your spirits up even when things may seem dire,” says CAPP Co-Chair, Morrie Manolson. “On darker days, remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us if you need help getting there.”