06/27/2013 05:43 EDT | Updated 08/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Living With Psoriasis: Six Tips for a Happy Relationship

Every relationship has its challenges, whether it's penciling-in quality time together or trying to reignite a flame. But for Canadians living with a chronic illness, engaging in relationships can be especially tough, particularly because their conditions make intimacy so much more difficult.

For men and women living with psoriasis -- a chronic skin condition that causes painful and irritating lesions -- the physical and emotional symptoms can cause distress, often resulting in feelings of depression, anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence. Moreover, the impact often extends to their partners and to the relationship on the whole.

The reality is that many aspects of partners' everyday lives are affected, such as enduring psychological pressures like anxiety and worrying about their loved one's future; both of which can take a toll on couples. Psoriasis can also mean limitations to holiday plans, date nights, shopping, and work.

Are you living with psoriasis? Try these three tips for embracing love and intimacy:

1. Be honest and straightforward as early as possible

Whether you're in a new or mature relationship, take the lead in talking to your partner about your condition and how it affects you. Telling your partner about the condition before a flare-up can help ease your anxiety and stress about intimacy.

2. Help partners express their feelings

Some people might feel awkward bringing up their feelings, because they don't want to say the wrong thing about your psoriasis or hurt your feelings. It can help to reduce their anxiety by voicing their possible concerns out loud. Share with them any feelings you have about the appearance of psoriasis that they may already be thinking; tell them if you are having a particularly bad flare-up and how it is normally; explain how you treat it and how it generally makes you feel. Most partners will appreciate your openness and confidence.

3. Educate your partner

If a partner is interested in becoming a part of your life, they will also be interested in learning how to support you with your psoriasis. Just as you want to learn how to make life special for them, trust them in wanting the same for you. By being open and honest, you are communicating to them that you would like them around in the future.

Are you the partner of someone living with psoriasis? Here's how you can support your loved one

1. Take control of the conversation

Partners should be honest with their loved ones, and describe how psoriasis affects them.

2. Listen to your loved one

Listen to the person you care about, but don't push him or her to talk about it. Also, try not to second guess what your loved one is thinking, always ask.

3. Play a role in disease management

Managing psoriasis symptoms can take many forms, but it's important that partners are supportive and help patients take control of the condition. By playing this role, loved ones feel relieved, loved and supported.

Remember: your psoriasis doesn't have to be a roadblock to intimacy between you and your current or future partner. Be confident and willing to talk openly about how psoriasis impacts you, and you may be surprised by the results!

You should also work together with a healthcare professional to ensure your condition is well-managed and under control. There are many treatments available for skin conditions like psoriasis, which can help minimize flare-ups and reduce the overall impact on your relationship.

By working as a team -- with both your partner, and your doctor -- finding your happily ever might be easier than you think.


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