Behind the Photos: Dealing with Psoriasis When Traveling

Pin It

A year ago I wrote an article describing my experience living and traveling with chronic conditions. While the responses from my readers were mainly positive, many reactions to a reprinted version of my article on News.com.au weren’t nice at all. Lots of people described me as this pretty girl who has a few red dots on her skin and complains. Others just focused on the main cover photo that my friend took when I was working as an assistant at a wedding photoshoot.

0Y4A1283

Ever thought why was I wearing long gloves in this photo?

What people who don’t have psoriasis might not know is that it does have an impact on your life and it’s not just ‘a few red dots’ but a bigger problem that not only prevents a lot of us from traveling and living abroad, but also very often from even leaving the house. Moreover, over 20% of people suffering from psoriasis are often depressed and 7% end in suicides. Still think it’s a silly skin problem?

This is why ever since my first article I wanted to write a follow up. Now I’m finally ready to share my experiences and give more tips that would hopefully encourage other people with psoriasis to travel more and not be afraid of dealing with other people.

Living with psoriasis is harder than many think it is

When I was younger I was hoping that my psoriasis was going to go away at some point, but it never did. In fact, it was getting worse over the years. It’s been painful, itchy and therefore impacted on what I wore.

Whether you swim, go to the beach or go to a hairdresser psoriasis can really destroy your self-confidence and make you resent your own body. While the majority of people have a mild psoriasis my case was described as severe.

A lot of people don’t want to travel with psoriasis, as living with it even at home isn’t easy. I often spent hours picking flakes of my skin from my hair and sit on my bed scratching itchy patches. When you travel and change the climate things it can get way worse. Moreover why would anyone go to a sunny destination when they’re embarrassed of undressing to a swimwear?

Wynwood

It looks like I look completely normal, right?

People will tell you to adjust your expectations to your condition

Ever since I was diagnosed with psoriasis I was told that I needed to adjusts my expectations. My wardrobe was adjusted to my psoriasis, as I always wore longer dresses with dark stockings to cover the spots on my legs. When I had flakes on my elbows, which was pretty much always, I wore long gloves when going out with friends and stopped wearing black sweaters and coats as scales from my head flaking off looked like a bad dandruff. Every time I walked into a room for a job interview or even had a drink at friends’ house I didn’t want to sit on a black sofa or a chair as it was covered in ‘snow’ from my head very quickly.

I also gave up on one of my hobbies – pole fitness, as not only I was embarrassed to attend a class in shorts and tank top, but also flared skin was often bleeding scaring my other classmates.Desktop

*

My public image of a ‘bikini girl’ in this case is quite ridiculous

I recently discovered that I’m being called a ‘bikini girl’ among other travel bloggers. Every major publication somehow chooses to feature my bikini photos as a cover photo of an article about me. While it may seem flattering, I think it’s quite a funny coincidence considering my skin problem. It actually costs me a lot of courage to put on my bikini and wander around the beach.

Since I currently live in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, where sunbathing at the beach or swimming at cenotes are daily activities, it’s impossible for me to avoid showing off some skin. Whether with red spots or without them. I simply had to tell myself that I need to try live like other people. I mean, seriously people, what am I supposed to wear a the beach and swim in… a moo moo? That would be far more awkward, don’t you think?

Not photoshopped...

Not photoshopped…

I also heard that I’m this stereotypical girl with a perfect manicure and wearing dresses everywhere. I’m not going to go into the discussion why the modern world thinks. That in order to be a traveler girls need to wear absolutely no make up, dress in sweatpants and tramps, as it’s a topic for a long blog post.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I actually hate shopping. I usually pick things up from Amazon (if you don’t believe me check this outfit), and really don’t enjoy getting my nails done every 2 weeks at the nail salon. But, due to my psoriasis again I have no nails when I don’t get a special treatment for them and my supposedly perfect manicure isn’t actually my choice.

Your skin doesn’t define you

At some point I simply realized that if things cannot be changed I had to deal with my psoriasis everywhere instead of hiding it. I stopped carrying about covering up my spots, pretended like nothing happened and stop limiting myself because of it. I’ve realized that no matter where I live or where I travel to, people will react to my skin in a similar way. So why would I suffer more thinking about it when my skin is painful enough already?

I quickly realized that it’s not me who can’t deal with it as I got used to it, but it’s other people. Treating my skin might make my morning routine longer than it’d take the ‘normal’ people, but it doesn’t mean it has to dictate my life.DSC030188

You gotta learn is how to deal with people in public

If I had a button to put on my chest when I go into public, it would be: Hello, I’m Anna, you don’t have to stare, it’s just psoriasis. It’s not contagious, as it’s not a skin disease but an immune disorder. Do I see that people are often afraid of sitting next to me? Yes, and you know what – it’s more space for me!

Will they stop asking questions? No, and they also won’t stop staring, so instead of feeling insecure about it I’ve learned to answer their questions before they even have a chance to open their mouth. I didn’t fall off the bike and didn’t get a sunburn, it’s just my skin and no, I don’t need your cream that worked for your grandma. It definitely made my life easier.

You might want to cut off a few people from your life

As sad as it may sound I had to cut off a few people from my life, including some friends. You don’t want to be constantly asked about ‘how’s your skin doing this week?’, ‘does it get any better?’, ‘how’s your boyfriend dealing with it?’ etc and inspect it with stares when we meet. Again, it’s enough stress for me as it is.

The thing is that you shouldn’t rely on people who cannot deal with something that’s a part of you. Instead, you want to be friends with those who’ll tell you that you’re crazy when you’re trying to put a concealer over your red spots and that you look nice without it.

In the past I lost two boyfriends over my psoriasis, because they couldn’t deal with it and made me feel awful about myself and my look. I didn’t want to date and felt uncomfortable about even considering a possibility of a longer relationship with anyone. The truth is, that you shouldn’t care about these idiots. NEVER think that you cannot find someone who’d accept you for who you are regarding your skin issues. Trust me, one day you’ll meet someone who won’t give a damn and will make you feel beautiful – I’m speaking from experience.DSC02858

All I want to say is that you’re not alone! Your psoriasis is just a small distraction from everything you can do with your life! Travel, life abroad and enjoy life and ignore those who cannot handle you!

This article was originally published on News.com.au & reposted on the Daily Mail.

Pin It

23 Comments

  1. Apr 18, 2016 / 11:37 am

    Love this! well done for standing up for yourself and writing this. Those who may bag you out for being a “pretty girl” or “bikini girl” are jealous! I bet you work hard to have a good body and therefore should be able to show it how you want. People should learn to stop being so judgemental. Sometimes what a person may seem on the outside to others isn’t the case and they may be going through more then meets the eye. Good work writing this!

    • Apr 23, 2016 / 8:05 pm

      Thanks Rebecca! Means a lot!

  2. W.
    Apr 18, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    Dear Anna, I appreciate you do not want your blog nor you to be defined by psoriasis but just needed to comment. My ex had psoriasis in her hair so twice a week I would use the appropriate charcoal ointment and work all the excess skin out (usually onto my lap as she laid there). Ironically, it was the best times of the week as it was just us and personal. Never did I look at the psoriasis or her with negativity due to same. If anything it bought us closer and became part of our lives not just hers. I guess I am just trying to say, sometimes these things can be positive with the right person.

    And a massive thank you for showing everyone out there that you can have psoriasis and still be stunning.

  3. Michael
    Apr 18, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    I have had my whole body covered in psoriasis . After many years of embarrasment, pain and torture and creams etc and visiting specialists, drs etc i fixed it myself. I gave up Brown bread, onions, sulphar foods such as cheezels, potatoe chips, nuts , cucumber, oranges, 95 % chocolate, mandarins, 99% of my sugar intake which included tomatoe sauce etc , rock melons . Butter and margarine i gave up .I dont drink alcohol, dont drink tea or coffee and dont smoke. I eat mainly fruit and vegetables and lean meat and chicken and a piece of fish on rare occasions. I drink mainly water and milk and NOT cool drink or FJ. I make my own FJ by using 100% fruit NO sugars.. I use only natural sea salt BUT only to put onto a meat etc I dont cook in salt .I only eat white bread approx 2 pieces per day .Less sugar in them the better .I eat whit rolls ocassionally. I use extra virgin olive oil. I also soak my arms 2 times per day in salt water. In doing this i use approx 1 KG of salt per week in soaking my arms . I salt the water in a container in the morning and dissolve it and i then soak my arms for 15 minutes and then when i take them out of the salt water i let my arms dry naturally . I repeat this at lunch time and then during the evening. Why soak my arms ?.. well the skin on them became so weak , if i accidently pressed the skin too hard my skin would break out in huge red marks as though someone had hit me with a cricket bat. So now after soaking them in the salt water the skin has become tougher but i still soak them and now if i accidently hit my arm ie on a door or something hard the marks rareley appear if at all. I use the same salt water i used in the morning for lunch soaking and evening soaking then tip it out and put new salt water in the next day .
    I figured out with my psoriasis that it has a lot to do with what i was eating and drinking. My kidneys and liver must be enjoying my new diet. Just about everyday people who know me are so surprised at my skins lack of psoriasis . I also sleep in thick ACTIL BRAND cotton sheets / pillow slips only cotton , cost approx $180 per set . I found other type of sheets were contributing to my psoriasis . I also wear cotton clothes, socks etc . I avoid if possible other types of fabrics. Over heating alos contibutes to psoriasis . If the psoriasis appears it starts near my ankles but i know i have broken my diet ( chocolate ) and i quickly change and i use on a couple of spots an ointment ( from my Dr ) named Eleuphrat ONLY for my body NOT my face.as it would tear my face apart. For my face i use Hydrozole. The tubes are 30 g each and last me for months IF the psoriasis breaks out .

    My Drs said my psoriasis was the worst they had seen . The are amazed what i did and did say because it worked for me it may not work for others. I also lost a lot of weight, i figured the extra fat i had wasnt good for me but helping the psoriasis . Even my son who is a Dr is shocked . He didnt recognise me as we had not seen him for 3 yrs , only photos etc and my wife has visited him out of our state but i didnt visit him. i was too ashamed too travel etc . She was on strict advice from me not to tell him what i was doing. lol .When we visited him last Xmas , yes i flew interstate , He looked at me , he walked straight passed me at the airport , he didnt know who i was , , his look at me when he realised who i , was priceless .
    i AM NOT in anyway associated with any of the brands i have named . It was over a period of years i experimented with fabrics, medications etc .
    Good luck

  4. Hoppy Kangaroo
    Apr 18, 2016 / 3:37 pm

    I am surprised and pleased to see this story, putting a face to the skin condition psoriasis. I have had this disease for 34 years, since I was twenty. And all of this true, you don’t wear black, you wear nail polish every day, in my case my nails are lifted from the nail bed on most nails and is not nice for people to see. I have to have surgery on my toenails because they have curled and are deformed and will probably have to be removed. The pain in the toes is bad and affects the way I walk, so I have a slightly strange gait. No nail polish can hide this, and wearing closed shoes has become painful, but when I wear sandals people stare and look disgusted. I have it on my scalp too, and it itches all the time. This may sound pretty bad, but I am thankful I have a mild form of the disease. Some people have flare ups that leave them in the burns unit. Others, like my grandmother stay indoors and stop social activities because of the embarrassment, that was sad.

    • Apr 23, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      I feel you as I have the same situation with my nails and scalp 🙁

  5. Dave
    Apr 18, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    You are a lovely Lady, hang in there, new treatments every year someone WILL solve it soon

    • Apr 23, 2016 / 8:07 pm

      Thanks Dave! Hopefully you’re right 🙂

  6. Gopal B
    Apr 19, 2016 / 3:32 am

    Thank you so much for this article. I have had psoriasis for 20+ years now. I live with it now and notice less when people look and look away. My daughter (who is 10) promises me that when she grows up she will become a medical researcher and find a cure for her dads skin thing. Hope you can wait till then :-).

    • Jun 20, 2016 / 1:58 am

      Awww how cute of your daughter 🙂

  7. Apr 22, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    Way to go, Anna!

    • Jun 20, 2016 / 1:57 am

      Thanks Jett!

  8. MelissaLynn
    Jun 20, 2016 / 6:28 am

    Mine is covering 70% of my body now. Im 41. Since.i was 10 ive had this and when the dermatologist told me, i had no idea it was a life sentence. Thanks for.helping me feel brave.
    Lots of love from Vegas.
    Get some salt water in for me?

    • Jun 20, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      Oh noes – so sorry to hear this 🙁 I keep hoping that one day mine will improve, but so far I don’t see it…

  9. Jun 21, 2016 / 12:57 am

    I feel you Anna. I’ve dealt with Chronic Psoriasis for a long time and have never found a cure.
    Luckily, Most of my psoriasis isn’t visible (except in my scalp and the back of my head and elbows, fingernails).
    But even if it’s not visible, you know it’s there and sometimes, especially in hot weather..or sometimes even cold weather or changing whether, it loves to flare up .

    I’ve just decided to ignore it and use hydrocortisone during the times it starts flaring up, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve never gotten rid of it on my scalp. I’m actually about ready to start doing Vlogging myself am looking forward to just…being me.

  10. Jul 31, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    Very honest and brave of you to share this. I never knew, thought the leggings and gloves were just a fashion statement. Clearly you are a beautiful person inside and out!

    • Jul 31, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      Thank you dear :*

  11. Thomas Stone
    Jan 23, 2017 / 4:30 am

    I am a 52 year old male with psoriasis. It first appeared on Grad night the day before I got out of high school. As the years have gone on it has gotten progressively worse. I always swore that if I ever saved enough I’d move to somewhere like Playa Del Carmen and lay on the beach every day, as constant sun on my skin is a big improvement, tanning. I did not go off and travel just because of my skin issues. While I was fortunate for a long time that it was only on my back, thighs, and torso, it was easy to wear shorts and hawaiian shirts and only my friends and relatives knew…Now, it has spread to my arms chest, and upper butt/waist area….It is a disability as bad or worse than most others but not understood by either most people, insurance companies, or our own state governments…if it were I’d collect disability and be far better off getting a tan most days…And having an incredibly positive attitude….I am really happy to find someone who understands, as my own wife never did, and still has managed to overcome her psoriasis …May You Be Blessed and Safe, Happy and Cured!

  12. Apr 8, 2017 / 5:06 am

    Anna! You are beautiful. Good for your for living your life despite the illness. You deserve the best!

  13. Maria
    Apr 15, 2017 / 7:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I will help me near future. Frequently I travel with my family. I will keep in mind this experience. Really it’s an impressive article. Hope we will get such nice and informative article in near future.

  14. Nancy Cooper
    May 26, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    Thank you so much for this valuable information.

    It is people like you that really make a difference in the lives of people with psoriasis.

    I suffered for 12 years from psoriasis and nothing I tried worked.

    Drugs, nutrition, all types of doctors…you name it–the suffering never really went away.

    Fortunately, I found out about a natural way that finally got rid of my psoriasis for good.

    Hope it helps and keep up the good work!

  15. Temecca
    Nov 30, 2017 / 9:34 am

    I’ve dealt with Psoriasis for 50 years. I’ve been to countless Dermatologists, tried numerous treatments, from the funny to the ridiculous and nothing worked until now. One week after using dermalmd psoriasis serum, my hands were completely clear. My feet are taking a bit longer, but I’m sure with the results I’m seeing, will be healed soon. Recommended !!

  16. Sarah
    Dec 13, 2017 / 5:33 am

    Aww thank you for being an inspiration to me. I think you are absolutely gorgeous and you have no idea how much you have inspired me to be brave and find the strength and courage within me to be comfortable in my skin this summer. Thank you for being brave for us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *