Written by: Francis Florencio
Seeing my wife having flare-ups of psoriasis is difficult to see. Those red, dry and scaly patches on her arms, back and legs look very discomforting and at worse, painful. Since we got married, I have seen first-hand the tremendous effort my wife does to put ointments on her skin to manage these flare-ups and at times with little success. As a support person for our loved ones with skin conditions there are things we could do to help them manage their skin condition. Here are some of those I've learned over the years.
Affirm their beauty despite the condition
I believe this is first and foremost. Skin conditions can negatively affect our loved ones' perception of beauty of themselves and it is not hard to see why. I remember times when my wife would look at herself in the mirror feeling low and dejected on how she looks. She would sometimes even apologise to me for how her skin looks and feels. Having this condition heavily affected her perception of herself. As her husband, it is my responsibility to be her main support person. Affirming her that she is beautiful in my eyes despite her condition means a lot to her.
Be intentional and remind your loved one they are still beautiful/handsome and you love them no less. Avoid words or phrases that can make them feel worse about themselves. Build them up, not tear them down. Find moments to affirm them regularly. Perhaps, while they are doing their skin care routine, approach them and genuinely affirm that they are, and always will be, the apple of your eyes.
Assist them as they do their skincare routine
Going through these conditions are hard in itself, let alone the regular application of ointments and medications on their body during flare ups. You can help lighten this burden by making yourself available to help when they need to apply their ointments & creams. Ensure them that seeing these areas will not make you love them less and that you want to help them heal. Helping in this way makes them feel loved and accepted. You can use this time as well to reconnect by checking up on them, how they feel, how else can you help them heal.
Help minimise their stress
Stress drives the skin to be oily and thus susceptible to irritation, inflammation and triggers flare-ups of the skin condition. Find ways how you can help your loved one feel less stressed. Listen and understand what makes them afraid, worried, or irritated. Don't worry if you don't have answers or solutions to all their worries and fears, because sometimes, a listening ear is all they need. Knowing that someone truly understands them eases the burden, hence lessens the stress. You can try and also help with house chores, offer a massage, or cook them their favourite meal. There are many ways you can help your loved one de-stress so I'm sure you won't ever run out of ideas!
Support them in finding the right products and methods to help manage their skin conditions
What I learned about these skin conditions is that it is not a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. Skin conditions are unique for each individual and finding what works for them is a journey in itself. I remember my wife would buy different moisturisers every time we went grocery shopping just to find the right one that works. She would often feel bad for having to spend more than our budget at times but I assured her that if she wants to try that new serum or moisturiser to help ease her skin, then buy it. We could cut our costs on other things. Being able to find healing for her is far more important than other things. She eventually found products that work for her skin and I am glad to have been part of that journey.
Supporting them to try new products to help find those that work instil hope in them, that one day they will find something that would help them manage their skin. And so, be with your loved ones on this journey. Support them as they try different products, assist them with their doctor visits and take keen interest on this journey with them.
Instil hope that their skin condition can be improved
I could only imagine the ongoing burden, worry and stress of having a skin condition that has no cure. There are days the flare-ups are really bad and your loved one feels powerless and despondent about it all. An always uphill battle with no end. There are nights when my wife would cry at night as she lays on our bed, not being able to move much as her skin was intensely dry, irritated, itchy, and sometimes, even bleeding. She would feel hopeless during times like these. And it is during these very moments that we need to speak life and hope to them.
Remind them that these flare-ups are for a moment and it will subside. Remind them of those times when they had better days, and ensure them that if it has happened before, it will happen again. Assure them that you will not give up on them and help them find products and treatments that work no matter what. Be their strength when they have nothing else to give.
I hope these few points gave you some ideas on how to support your loved one with a skin condition. Having skin conditions is difficult and challenging to live with, but it does not have to be impossible. Like other health conditions, these skin conditions can be managed with the right approach and we can be part of our loved one’s solution. As the old saying goes, “Shared joy is double the joy. Shared sorrow is half the sorrow."