”No, it’s not eczema. No, it’s not contagious. And no, it’s not really a skin disease.” What you just read are the misconceptions about psoriasis. When people see my skin, they always assume it’s eczema. Then their are people who ask if it’s contagious. While others may have heard about psoriasis, but do not know that it’s an auto-immune disease more than it is a “skin disease.” As a child I was always afraid to tell people what my disease was, I feared that they wouldn’t understand. But now as an adult, I realize that it’s my job to make people understand what psoriasis is, so we can end the stigma and the misconceptions.
I’ve had to learn not to come off as offended when people ask me about my psoriasis. When I was younger I would hate for someone to ask me “what’s wrong with your skin.” To me, it meant that they noticed something I was trying so hard to conceal. I would usually give a quick answer with a mean glare that said “don’t go any further, it’s none of your business.” But as I walk this journey, I realize most people ask because they genuinely want to know, not to hurt your feelings. I use to tell myself “I will not be a walking billboard for psoriasis,” I wouldn’t wear short sleeves and I would avoid questions at all cost. But now I embrace being that “walking billboard!” I represent one of the 7 million people who are dealing with this disease. Today, when someone ask me about my skin, I get excited. I love being that voice for psoriasis which brings awareness and education about the disease.In order to confront stigma, you must be comfortable within yourself, you have to accept the fact that you have psoriasis. For years, I hid in shame as if I had leprosy. I would try to forget that I had the disease, by blocking it out, by covering up, by not talking about it. This disease did so much to my self-esteem that often times I found it hard to feel confident enough to speak out. Then, dealing with the pressures of society and beauty, made me feel like the only way to live a good life was to hide the sorrows that covered my body. But in June 2011, I went to the National Psoriasis Foundation, and I became liberated about my condition. I met other people just like me, who walked proud and were truly comfortable in their own skin. I thought to myself, “if they can do it, so can I.”