Can having a supportive family make the psoriasis journey easier?



Yes, having a supportive family or network of people can make the psoriasis journey easier. People who perceive their social network to be supportive will handle stress better, are more likely to get help for their disease and the associated comorbidities, and are more likely to be compliant with regards to their treatment. A supportive family or network of people can even have a positive effect on the health of an individual.

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Expert Answers

Dr. Ron Vender:

Having a supportive family is extremely important in the management of psoriasis. Psoriasis is an extremely stressful skin disorder as well as a psychosocially difficult disease to handle. Education of close friends and relatives is key to helping them provide support to those that suffer from psoriasis. Being able to express your feelings to family members, as well as friends, is important to general well-being. Being comfortable with your skin – whether it is flared or under control – in social situations helps to be able to cope with the skin disorder.

It is important for family members and close friends to understand that this is a chronic skin disorder that has comorbidities such as depression and anxiety. Patients have to take the time to treat psoriasis properly, even if it means interrupting social situations, on occasion. Having a supportive network of people may help someone be more compliant in the sense that they will not feel bad about taking the time and space necessary to apply their treatment. 

Meditation may also be important and awareness of your need to be at ease may even encourage family members and friends to join you !

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Marie Achille:

Having a supportive social network, including a supportive family, has repeatedly been shown to be an asset when it comes to health. Several studies have shown that when people perceive their social network (e.g., family, spouse, friends, peers, other) as supportive, this provides a buffer from the daily stress they experience, including the stress caused by having a medical condition. This is called the buffering hypothesis and psoriasis is no exception. The benefits of having a supportive network are greatest for those who experience the highest levels of stress. One explanation for the buffering effect of social support is that those who perceive they have high levels of support may think more positively about difficult situation and feel less threatened, knowing that others will be there to help them. A supportive network can provide many types of support, including emotional support (i.e., expression of caring, concern), belongingness support (i.e., social companionship), practical support (i.e., concrete assistance), appraisal support (i.e., information on how to cope with a situation), and esteem support (i.e., affirmation that one is valued and respected). Each type of support can obviously be of great help when it comes to dealing with psoriasis, flare ups, treatment and their multiple effects.  Social support can also have a beneficial effect on health that is not limited to when we are under stress. Significant others can encourage us to engage in healthy behaviours, stay away from unhealthy ones, use health care resources and follow medical regimen when indicated. This is called the direct effects hypothesis.

A supportive family may have an especially important role to play in the case of children and adolescents who have psoriasis. Besides being one of the most important dermatological inflammatory diseases in youth, its appearance in this age group can have considerable psychological effects on the patient as well as on the family. Parents can play an important and valuable role when it comes to helping their child learn strategies to manage stress, develop self-control skills (important for treatment adherence), in supporting their developing self-esteem, strengthening their adaptive features, stabilizing the psychological and emotional condition the child lives in, and facilitating the learning of problem solving and social skills. This will in turn insure that each child has the necessary skills to cope with having psoriasis and to manage stress, a factor known to influence disease progression in many. Parents can be supported in this role by a psychologist or health care professional knowledgeable in the psychosocial aspects of psoriasis.

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Andrew Gosse:

Absolutely ! Having a supportive family or support network (friends, social group, coworkers, etc), can make enduring and persevering with your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis so much easier.

Once your support network understands the disease, you no longer feel isolated. While the symptoms may still be painful and difficult to manage, the social and psychological burden is lifted when you are with these people. That can make all the difference, especially during the most difficult times.

Sometimes, a person suffering from psoriatic disease would not have the support of family or someone close that they can share with. It is always best for those people to seek out other psoriasis patients via patient groups such as Canadian Psoriasis Network who can help connect them to a support network.

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