Can psoriasis cause difficulties in relationships?

A survey was done by Novartis about how psoriasis patients have difficulty in maintaining relationships. As per a global ‘Clear About Psoriasis’ Survey, 43% of psoriasis patients have faced trouble in relationships, owing to the skin disease. The survey was done among 8300 patients from among different parts of the World


  • Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition which causes patches of raised, red, scaly skin that are usually painful and itchy.
  • People suffering from psoriasis often find it difficult to form new relationships and maintain existing ones, due to lack of self-confidence and embarrassment, revealed the study. They constantly worry about the acceptance of their skin condition by their significant others.

‘It can have a serious impact on relationships of all kinds, including family, friends, and romantic partners. Of the patients that admitted to the impact of psoriasis on their relationships, a staggering 50% avoided having intimate relationships and 33% felt that they were inadequate as a spouse or partner’, explains the study.

The ‘Clear About Psoriasis’ Patient survey interviewed over 8,300 people from 31 countries and it is also the first of its kind to explore perceptions of clear skin in psoriasis. Out of the 8,300 respondents, 215 psoriasis patients from India participated in the survey across locations such as Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab.

According to Dr Soma Sarkar, Dermatologist and Medical Director, Skin Inn Clinic, Mumbai, “Many patients feel that psoriasis gets in the way of their relationships eventually impacting their self-esteem and confidence. Patients with untreated psoriasis tend to become reclusive.”

Data from the survey also highlights the lack of empathy towards psoriasis patients, with 15% patients saying that their partner ended a relationship with them because of psoriasis. “It is important to understand that psoriasis is not contagious, but lack of knowledge makes it common for patients to shy away from social events and interactions. This further leads to social isolation. Knowledge about psoriasis will go a long way to create public empathy,” said Dr Sarkar.

The study also revealed that 84% people suffering from moderate-to- severe psoriasis face discrimination and humiliation.

Psoriasis, like other skin problems is visible. It affects the relationship as people think it’s contagious. The ‘looking-good’ factor goes amiss. So a lot of people you were close with before the condition will tend to move away from you, causing mental stress and so on,” explained Dr Bindu Sthalekar, a dermatologist and cosmetologist based in Mumbai.

The first step to reduce the impact of psoriasis on relationships is, by working towards managing the condition and discussing it openly. This involves working with a dermatologist and adhering to the recommended treatment regimen, leading a healthy lifestyle, identifying and avoiding psoriasis triggers that lead to flare-ups.

43% of total sample feels psoriasis has affected their relationships and out of these:

  • 15% have had a partner end a relationship with them because of psoriasis
  • 33% feel inadequate as a spouse or partner
  • 50% avoid having intimate relationships
  • 27% cannot bear the thought of someone touching their skin