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Skin to Skin Condition: Psoriasis and Chronic Urticaria Talk to Each Other

STLI Writers Luke and Merritt share their conversation about what it’s like to live with their skin conditions, and what they would do without them. 

Merritt

Merritt Ward is one of our community writers and currently lives with psoriasis. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts where she works as a public relations specialist, and hopes her personal stories will help uplift and empower others in the psoriasis community.

Luke

Luke is a Skin to Live In writer living with Urticaria for over ten years. He’s active in the Urticaria community online and has many powerful stories to tell. He is also married and currently lives in Canada with his wife and newborn child.

Skin to live in brings together two very distinct skin disease communities - psoriasis and chronic urticaria (CU). But while they’re both unique in so many ways, they do have some commonalities. In this article, we gave two of our bloggers, Luke and Merritt, a chance to talk to each other about their condition. They asked five questions to each other, all of which encompass what it is like to live with a skin condition. Take a look at what they asked each other and their responses:

Questions Merritt (psoriasis) asked Luke (CU):

What is the most difficult aspect of living with CU?

The most difficult aspect to me, is not being able to be myself. I feel that with my CU, I have to be someone else all the time. I’m always hiding CU, whether it be with my family, friends or new acquaintances. I wish I could simply stop worrying about my CU every single day!

If you did not have CU, what is the number one thing you would do?

I would plan more vacations. CU sometimes inhibits me from traveling because I’m fearful of a breakout. Not to mention, I’ve had some bad experiences on planes when my CU creeped up on me. After that, I’d get a gym membership! I haven’t had a gym membership because when you are at the gym, you are sharing weights, machines, etc. with others. If you’re experiencing a breakout, people stare and they avoid the weights/machines you recently use - they think it’s contagious. So, I just avoid the awkwardness that goes along with the gym all together.

In your own words, how do you explain CU to people who don’t know?

I explain it as a skin condition, much like psoriasis, that comes and goes in the form of hives, spontaneously. And I explain that it's very rare, so I don't expect them to know it.

What is the single most important thing you wish people knew about CU?

I wish people knew that it's not just hives, and I can't just deal with it. It affects my whole body, physically and emotionally. 

Have you found any benefits to living with CU? 

I have a strong appreciation and understanding for others with illnesses (visible and non-visible), and it has made me very sensitive and compassionate towards others. I am the last to judge anyone by their appearance, and the first to smile at them.

Questions Luke (CU) asked Merritt (psoriasis):

What's the most embarrassing moment your skin condition has caused you?

There isn’t necessarily one clear memory that stands out from others as the “most” embarrassing. However, there have been a handful of times, particularly in the summer when I wear shorts or a dress, and someone says, “wow, are those all bug bites over your legs?” or “what did you do to your legs? Is that a bad burn?” I usually go on to explain it’s my psoriasis, what psoriasis is and that it’s not contagious!  

What is the most difficult part of living with psoriasis?

Aside from the physical discomfort (i.e. itchy, painful red plaques), there’s the emotional or mental discomfort. I hate that I am embarrassed sometimes of my skin and that I think about my clothing choices every single day, and particularly so for special occasions like a friend’s wedding, a date or a big work presentation. 

If your psoriasis were to disappear tomorrow, what would you do that you weren't able to do before?

I would finally wear all the summer dresses and skirts I haven’t worn in years! I’m typically wearing ankle-length dresses or pants, and I would LOVE to wear sundresses, skirts and shorts more. Especially when it’s 85-degrees and sunny.  😊

Are there any benefits (or aspects that you don't mind) of living with psoriasis?

I haven’t found any benefits to living with psoriasis, but I think there’s always an opportunity to educate my friends, family, colleagues and strangers about psoriasis. Recently, one of my colleagues said she made a dermatology appointment because she was told she may have psoriasis, so I shared with her that I have it, and offered to give her some tips or advice if she needed it.

Where do you go for comfort when your skin is at its worst?

If it’s possible, I try to get into the sun because moderate sun exposure can potentially be healing for my psoriasis plaques.1 Maybe others (people living with psoriasis) agree, but I feel that sunlight is heavenly when my skin is acting up. 

A lot can be learned from one skin condition talking to another. One thing for certain is that there is strength in numbers. If you or someone you know is living with a skin condition like psoriasis or CU, provide support and help them (or yourself) strive for better skin. And, if you’re looking for answers or simply want to talk, Skin to live in’s Facebook Messenger chatbot Nova is here 24/7. For psoriasis, click here, and for CU, click here.  

  1. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Alliance. Psoriasis and the Sun. http://www.papaa.org/further-information/psoriasis-and-sun

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