Psoriasis, I Have a Few Questions for You

Maybe you’re happy with how things are going with your psoriasis — or maybe you’re ready for a change. To figure out where you stand, ask yourself these 5 questions.

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Ask yourself, are you satisfied with your doctor? If not, it may be time to find someone new.Adobe Stock; iStock; Everyday Health

It’s August, and that means Psoriasis Action Month is here. Every year it’s a reminder for me to check in with how I’m managing my skin condition, and to think about whether there’s anything I can do to improve.

Instead of scrolling on social media to see how other people are coping with their psoriasis, or following my dermatologist’s instructions without question, I like to take the initiative. For Psoriasis Action Month two years ago I prioritized self-care, and last year I shared a four-part action plan to build self-confidence.

This year I’m asking myself the following five questions to see if I need a change:

1. Am I Satisfied With My Doctor?

I once had a new dermatologist who didn’t spend much time with me during visits or respond in a timely way to my messages. But I felt I had to stay with the doctor assigned to me. My psoriasis suffered and so did I.

I learned from that poor experience that it’s okay to change dermatologists if I don’t feel they are a good match for me or adequately caring for my needs. It takes time to create a collaborative relationship with a doctor, so I’m mindful not to switch too quickly. But when it’s not working out, I need to make a change.

Thankfully, I feel I have good communication with my current dermatologist, so I’ll stick with her. This month, I encourage you to think about your relationship with your psoriasis team and consider what to adjust to better meet your healthcare needs.

2. Should I Change or Tweak My Treatments?

Switching treatments is a big deal for me. Stopping a medication can feels like giving up hope. I also fear that the next treatment won’t work. There’s a tipping point, though, where I’m experiencing enough discomfort with my skin that I choose to move on to a different therapy.

If your treatments are working well enough, there might be a small change you want to try. For example, my biologic is mostly controlling my psoriasis, but I still have some stubborn spots. I don’t want to add another systemic medication, so I’m going to talk to my dermatologist about dietary supplements during my August clinic visit.

This Action Month is a great opportunity to list all your medications and treatments and evaluate how well they are working or if there’s something else you want to add.

3. Am I Getting Enough Emotional Support?

Recently I met with two of my friends from college, catching up about careers and family during a two-hour lunch. One of my friends suddenly changed the subject to point out that my psoriasis looked clearer. I felt supported and cared for when my friend brought it up without prompting.

Having help with with the emotional ups and downs of living with a chronic illness like psoriasis used to feel like a luxury, but now I know it’s a necessity.

If you feel you don’t have people you can confide in, there are ways to look for them. Is there a family member or friend you feel comfortable talking to about your psoriasis? Or an online psoriasis community you can join? Over the next few weeks I’m committing to being more active in one I joined over the winter, with the hope of sharing ideas and building new friendships.

4. Does My Skin-Care Routine Still Work?

Old habits do die hard, and it’s no different for my psoriasis routines. For years I took hot showers in the evenings because they soothed me after a long, hard day of work or an exercise session. But the hot water also dried out my skin. My new routine of taking lukewarm or cold showers took some getting used to, but my skin is less irritated and inflamed.

Action month is a great occasion to start a new skincare routine or adjust what you’re already doing. I’m currently experimenting with breathing and meditation exercises during my evening routine of showering, moisturizing, and applying topical medication. My hope is that I can better address anxiety around my psoriasis by adding this activity.

5. Do I Have the Capacity to Help Others With Psoriasis?

I didn’t always have energy to write psoriasis blogs or join advocacy teams to bring about healthcare policy change. For many years I barely felt like I could function each day, especially during psoriasis flares. But as my psoriasis calmed with improved treatments, I began to think about how to help others.

Our actions, taken together as a community, can make a huge impact. It can be as simple as raising psoriasis awareness with individuals in our social circles. Volunteering at a community psoriasis educational or fundraising event also makes a discernible impact.

After a season of grieving the loss of my father-in-law, who passed away this past spring, I’m making space this summer to blog more frequently and actively reach out to my legislative representatives about an important healthcare bill that the National Psoriasis Foundation reports would help lower treatment costs.

Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I hope these five psoriasis questions help you assess next steps in your psoriasis care. It can feel overwhelming to think about all that you could do to better manage your health. This month I encourage you to start by taking one action — even if it feels like a small step.

You can read more about my experiences on my website, PsoHoward.

Important: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.