Don't Let Shame Prevent You From Getting Help for Genital Psoriasis

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concerned male patient in dressing gown waiting for doctor

Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease in which skin cells grow faster than normal and may develop into scaly patches, is a common skin condition. Often, psoriasis appears on your knees, scalp, and elbows, but it can also appear on your genitals. If it does, doctors can treat the condition successfully, but first you have to let your doctor know about your symptoms.

Don’t let shame or embarrassment stop you from discussing it with your doctor. Genital psoriasis is more than annoying; it can interfere with sexual intimacy and self-confidence. It’s worth getting past any hesitation you may feel to get your genital psoriasis under control.

How do I know I might have genital psoriasis?

The most common type of genital psoriasis is called inverse psoriasis, which appears as smooth red patches. You may see them on the genitals themselves or on your upper thighs, creases in your groin, near the anus, or in the area above the genitals. Men may have scaly patches on the penis.

Genital psoriasis tends to appear in people who have psoriasis elsewhere on their body, so if you have the condition and notice red patches, or feel an itching or burning in your genital area, you should talk to your doctor. Psoriasis is not contagious and genital psoriasis is not an STD. Your doctor can treat it topically, with UV light, or sometimes with medication.

I feel ashamed; how do I talk to my doctor about genital psoriasis?

Your physician went through extensive medical training, some of which involved understanding intimate areas of the body. For a doctor, the task—to make you better—is the same no matter where the concern lies. If doctors weren’t comfortable dealing with all the features that make us human, anatomical and otherwise, they would not have become doctors. You can put the embarrassment aside.

If it feels hard to get the words out, try acknowledging up front that it’s difficult. For example, you can say something like, “This is a little tough to bring up, but I see something that concerns me in my genital area,” or “I’m embarrassed to talk about this, but I think I better tell you that I am having some intense itching and burning in my genital area.”

Once you’ve crossed that hurdle, your doctor can diagnose you and talk to you about treatment if you do have genital psoriasis. If you are given medications, you need to be open about how you feel about using them. If you don’t like a certain cream that’s prescribed, for instance, tell your doctor, because there may be other options. You should also follow your doctor’s instructions to reduce the likelihood of a flare. These include avoiding clothing or underwear that rubs roughly against your body, learning to clean well after bowel movements, and using lubricants during sexual activity. Anything that creates friction and sweating can trigger inflammation and cause a genital psoriasis flare.

Genital psoriasis can be tricky to treat, but there’s no reason for you to deal with the itching and burning that can come with it. The sooner you realize you can overcome any shame or embarrassment in discussing it with your doctor, the sooner you can get help for your genital psoriasis.

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Last Review Date: 2018 Aug 16
  1. Genital Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  2. Genital psoriasis is associated with significant impairment
    in quality of life and sexual functioning. Journal of the American Academy of
  3. Patients’ Perspectives on the Impact of Genital Psoriasis: A
    Qualitative Study. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of
  4. How can I treat
    genital psoriasis? American Academy of Dermatology.
  5. Don’t Be Shy: 4 Tips
    for Talking to Your Doctor. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  6. Taking the Embarrassment Out of Health Problems. Stories at
    Yale Medicine.
  7. Psoriasis.
    Mayo Clinic.
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