6 Tips for Going on a Date When You Have a Flare-Up

It finally happened. You and the person you’ve been talking to on that dating app have decided to meet up. Or the one you’ve been flirting with at the coffee shop has asked you out. You really like this person, and you’re excited. There’s just one problem: You’re in the middle of a massive psoriasis flare.

Resist the Urge to Hide

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been living with psoriasis, there are likely still times when a flare can cause your confidence to falter. Deep down, you know that shouldn’t be the case. But that doesn’t mean you can just snap your fingers and suddenly all your insecurities will melt away.

During a typical flare, some people find themselves hiding out a bit more, avoiding social gatherings until the flare is under control. “An individual with psoriasis might experience anxiety about trying to hide their psoriasis from a potential partner,” explains Jameca Woody Cooper, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in St. Louis, Missouri, who just so happens to have psoriasis herself.

But you shouldn’t have to miss out on something that could be great just because you’re flaring.

Lead with Honesty

If you’re in the middle of a flare that can’t be hidden, Cooper says it’s best to address the issue right up front.

“Be honest by stating, ‘I have a chronic disease that sometimes results in outbreaks on my skin or joints,’” Cooper suggests. “Say, ‘I'm under the care of a rheumatologist and I carefully monitor my symptoms.’” You may also want explain that it’s not contagious, that you have certain triggers, and tell them briefly about any treatments you use.

Most importantly, she says, you should allow your date to ask questions. Show them there is nothing shameful about your condition, and help them understand by being as open and honest as you are comfortable being.

You might find it’s actually a great icebreaker and opportunity to get to know each other better.

Tend to Your Symptoms

Of course, talking to your date about your condition isn’t the only thing you might be worried about while flaring. When you have active symptoms, physical discomfort can cause distraction and keep you from enjoying yourself.

Being self-conscious might make that discomfort even worse.

“A patient with psoriasis might feel itching on their skin or some discomfort whenever a date or partner notices certain skin lesions,” explains Anna Chacon, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida.

To avoid this, Chacon suggests you identify any potential symptoms that might bother you before the date begins. This way, you can try to tackle those symptoms ahead of time so that you can be as comfortable as possible during the date itself.

For example, if you’re feeling itchy or have scales on your scalp, you might want to apply your topical treatment or use a medicated shampoo before you go. Bring along itch-controlling lotion if you think applying it will keep you comfortable. You may also want to try to find an outfit that covers the majority of your plaques; if you’re concerned, they’ll distract you.

The most important thing is to find ways to be comfortable, so you can more freely engage in conversation with your date.

Work Toward Acceptance

Everyone deals with insecurities, whether they have psoriasis or not. But having a chronic health condition, and especially one that presents so visibly, can certainly make it more difficult to muster up the confidence dating often requires.

That’s why Cooper says it’s so important to get to a place of acceptance with your condition, acknowledging that it is likely something you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life.

If you’re having a hard time getting there, she suggests finding other people who have psoriasis to talk to. Through support groups, either in person or online like Kopa, people are able to share stories about their experiences with psoriasis are better to begin normalizing their experience of living with a chronic illness, says Cooper.

This can have incredible benefits for you, even outside of the dating scene. Simply reminding yourself that you’re not alone in dealing with this condition and learning tips and tricks from other people walking a similar path can help to build your confidence, even while flaring.

Manage Your Condition for the Long Run

Chacon says that patients with psoriasis should feel like they can date with confidence in spite of a flare. But she recognizes that may not always be easy. This isn’t just about the date you’re going on this weekend—it’s long-term work you’ll need to do to get your mind and body where you want them to be.

“The best way to combat the discomfort and embarrassment you may feel is to be as honest as possible,” Chacon explains, adding that your honesty should extend not only to your date, but also to yourself and to your doctor.

She says this is important because you may come to find your doctor believed you were comfortable or satisfied with the current state of your condition. If you’re not, but don’t tell them, or aren’t willing to admit that discomfort to yourself, it can be a lot harder to get to that point.

“If your psoriasis is poorly controlled, the first thing you need to do is speak up and find out what might make you happier. If it’s itching that causes discomfort, the scaling of scalp, or the skin lesions themselves, there are treatment options available to help,” Chacon says.

Don’t Let Psoriasis Keep You from Enjoying Life

Psoriasis flares are uncomfortable, both physically and mentally, and it’s not uncommon for a person to decide they are going to just opt out of dating while in the midst of an especially difficult flare. If that’s a decision you’ve made, Chacon says it’s time to call your doctor.

“It definitely is a sign of poorly controlled disease or poor quality of life when someone is not dating, or not doing something they enjoy—like spending time with a significant other—because of a disease or its associated symptoms,” Chacon says.

If you’re at that point, she says you need to let your dermatologist know so that they can help you get your condition under control. In turn, you’ll be better equipped to have a fun and enjoyable dating life.

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