This month as part of my ambassador role with Epaderm, I want to discuss how the words of others can really impact life with a visible skin condition.
Many people are privileged to only discuss their medical history with those they choose. A skin condition is often on display without consent, without choice, and therefore it becomes a talking point even though it shouldn’t. I don’t need to tell you that it isn’t really appropriate to ask someone about their skin, but the boundary seems to blur because it’s there for all to see.
Curiosity Killed the Cat
If I had a pound for every stranger that asked what my psoriasis is, then I’d never need to work another day in all my life. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I am unable to walk down the street with bare arms without someone bringing my skin condition up. People will stop to pet my dog and then casually ask: “What’s that on your arm?” like it’s completely normal conversation. Now, I understand this curiosity comes from a good place. In most instances, anyway. Often people want to educate themselves or just have answers to their questions but sometimes, even innocently intended words can hurt.
Encounters & Education
Not every encounter is pleasant. I have had a woman physically pull her child away from me in the supermarket through fear I was contagious. Let me tell you that didn’t feel all that good in the moment. I’ve even had people complain to the lifeguard at the pool. Having to stand in a bathing suit dripping wet whilst I explain that my skin condition is completely harmless to others and I am indeed safe to be in the water while being watched by many pairs of eyes was not the highlight of my life so far.
I don’t mind educating people on psoriasis and skin conditions from my point of view. I’ve worked hard on my inner self-love and body acceptance, so I feel secure when approached on this topic. It’s essential, however, to understand that not everyone feels the same way. Furthermore, people need to know that their words hurt – however innocent they seem at the time.
If you had a spot or blemish on your face, I wouldn’t call it out or attract attention to it because that wouldn’t be comfortable for you. People need to understand that it’s the same for people with skin conditions. I don’t need a reminder that I have psoriasis on my face – I can see it – I’m not blind, and I’m actually quite familiar with my own body, believe it or not.
If you have a genuine question about skin conditions, I think education is a vital tool, but I don’t think it is appropriate to ask someone questions with a visible skin condition whom you don’t know. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, and you really don’t know how conscious they are of their condition. I’m certainly not an introvert, but there are moments when my skin is particularly bad where I have a complete waiver in confidence. For some people leaving the house will have taken every ounce of their being, and just highlighting their skin condition could do so much damage.
My advice is very simple and comes from a place of knowledge and understanding of both sides. If you see someone with a visible skin condition – don’t bring it up or ask questions unless you know this person and you feel it’s appropriate to do so. I honestly don’t ever feel it’s appropriate to ask a stranger about their condition. If someone who has a visible skin condition speaks out about it – like me on my social platforms that’s usually acceptable to ask well-intended questions. If you ever have questions about psoriasis, then reach out to me, and I would love to answer for you.
I’m currently an Epaderm brand ambassador but I’ve been using Epaderm for the past few years to help manage my psoriasis ever since my doctor recommended it. During a particularly bad flare Epaderm helps keep my psoriasis hydrated reducing the discomfort and itching which is most associated with this skin condition. It also helps reduce the appearance which really helps on those days I feel most self-conscious.
Thank you for stopping by! Check out my last post here.
Love as always!
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I always try and think how will what I say make the other person feel. Words really do hurt. I appreciate how open you are about your condition thank you.