It can be difficult to receive a diagnosis of psoriasis. Suddenly, you’re told you have a chronic skin condition with no cure—and that’s a lot to take in. So, it’s totally understandable if go through the rest of your doctor’s appointment in a daze. You will likely have questions after you’ve finished the appointment and processed this information. Like, a lotMany questions.
While your doctor will probably run through the basics—symptom management, recognizing flares, treatment options—they can’t cover everything in one appointment or even know all of the details you need for your particular lifestyle. That’s why connecting with other people who have psoriasis—about 7.5 million in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)—can be helpful.
With that in mind, we spoke to several people living with psoriasis to learn the best questions they’ve asked their doctors—and why their answers were so helpful. Keep these on the back burner for your next doctor’s visit if you’re still navigating the nuances of this disease.
1. Is psoriasis a condition that can affect my health beyond my skin?
“Everyone suffers from psoriasis differently,” she tells SELF. “I had it on my elbows and ankles and I was like, ‘Nobody notices those things. I’ll live with it.’” But Scholl, now 34, says it wasn’t until she started asking questions that she learned psoriasis could be linked with other symptoms she was experiencing, like joint pain.
Scholl was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at the age of 28. This chronic inflammatory arthritis affects about 30% of people with psoriasis.1 “I definitely never would have thought that my skin patches could be linked to joint pain,” she says. “Nobody ever asked me if I had joint pain. If they had, I would have said ‘yes’ and I could have been properly treated sooner than I was.”
2. What information do I need about my type of psoriasis
Sarah Boutwell was diagnosed at the age of 12 with psoriasis and at 23 with psoriatic arthritis. Now, at 37, Boutwell tells SELF she’s struggled with symptoms like red, itchy patches on her elbows and knees and smaller red dots on her legs and arms.
“I have red spots on 85% of my body most of the time,” Boutwell says. “But now that I’m at an age where I don’t care what people think anymore, I’m no longer afraid to wear shorts and other clothes that show my skin. My skin deserves to see the sun without being judged for my spots.”
Boutwell says it’s been helpful for her to find out more about her particular form of psoriasis: guttate psoriasis. (Psoriasis can appear in many formsPlaque psoriasis (the most common), as well as guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic, each of which can cause skin problems.