Genital Psoriasis and Your Sex Life

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Couples Feet in Bed

Psoriasis is a common condition in which overactive skin cells cause red, rough patches to appear on different ares of the skin. Unfortunately, one of the places these patches can develop is in the genital area. Living with genital psoriasis isn’t always easy. It requires diligent management of symptoms that can cause itching, pain, and embarrassment, as well as careful treatment of flare-ups. Sometimes genital psoriasis requires lifestyle changes, like altering the fit of your clothes so they don’t rub against sore, itchy red patches in the groin.

But you can have genital psoriasis and still have a fulfilling and healthy sex life. It just goes back to that “management” aspect. With the right outlook and tools, you can manage your condition and approach your relationship, including any sexual aspects, with openness and honesty.

Take Good Care of Yourself

The first person to think about before engaging in sexual activity is yourself. Genital psoriasis causes discomfort that needs careful treatment to avoid causing even more problems later on. Take the time to care for yourself before you have sex.

  • Make sure you have the right diagnosis. You may have plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type of psoriasis, or you may have inverse psoriasis, which causes slightly different symptoms. Plaque psoriasis tends to develop as thick, scaly red patches around the body, but they’re not always scaly in the genital region. With inverse psoriasis, grayish-white or reddish-gray patches develop in the folds of the skin. They may even crack or be painful.

  • Find and use the right topical treatment. The skin in the genital area is sensitive, so you might not be able to use a psoriasis remedy that works on another part of your body—it might cause further irritation. The skin in the genital area is also thinner than the skin in other parts of the body, so you must be judicious about using topical creams like corticosteroids. Those topical medicines can help the symptoms, but they can also cause thinning of the skin there, as well as stretch marks.

  • Consider other treatments. If your topical creams aren’t working very well to reduce the itching and irritation in your genital area, talk to your doctor about trying a biologic or systemic treatment instead.

  • Dress yourself with care. Nothing is worse than leaving the house in an outfit that rubs right up against a painful psoriasis lesion. Embrace loose-fitting clothes that won’t irritate the skin in your groin area.

  • Make other lifestyle changes as necessary. For example, genital psoriasis gives you a good excuse to buy the nice, soft, premium toilet paper. And don’t forget to find an unscented moisturizer that you can apply to your skin, too.

  • Address anxiety. Do you feel a lot of anxiety about your condition? You might want to talk to your doctor or a counselor. Sometimes, a sounding board can be a great way to release some of that tension and reassure you.

Talk With Your Partner

It’s hard for lots of people to speak openly and honestly about sex with their partner. For people with genital psoriasis, it can be even more difficult because they often feel some embarrassment about their condition. So, it makes sense they may experience some hesitation. But rest assured: it’s actually a really good idea. You can explain what you’re going through and how it feels. You can also do a little important educating, like noting that genital psoriasis is not a sexually transmitted disease and it’s not contagious.

Broaching the subject of genital psoriasis and your sex life with your partner can open the door to having healthy ongoing conversations about your condition and how it affects both of you. It might even make your relationship stronger.

Approach Sexual Activity With Care

If you’ve already talked about your genital psorias and its effect on sex with your partner, it may be easier to engage in sexual activity. It might be less awkward, as you both are aware of the situation. You might even be less likely to inadvertently cause pain.  

  • Use caution. Remember that friction in the wrong places can cause pain and irritation during a flare-up.

  • Use a condom. A man with genital psoriasis on his penis may find wearing a condom can relieve some of the irritation caused by skin-on-skin contact.

  • Clean up. After sex, be sure to carefully clean your genital area and reapply your topical medications.

  • Take a break. If you’re experiencing a particularly bad flare-up in your genital area, it might be time to take a break from sex until it resolves.

This may be a learning process, but don’t give up. You’ll find a way to maintain a healthy sex life with genital psoriasis. Talk to your doctor if your treatment isn’t working out, or if you think you need to try something different.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 11
  1. Cather JC, Ryan C, Meeuwis K, et al. Patients’ Perspectives on the Impact of Genital Psoriasis: A Qualitative Study. Dermatology and Therapy. 2017;7(4):447-461. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5698203/
  2. Genital Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/genitals
  3. Genital psoriasis: how to treat and manage it. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/genital-psoriasis-how-to-treat-it-how-to-manage-it
  4. How can I treat genital psoriasis? American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis/diagnosis-and-treatment-of-psoriasis/how-ca...
    Inverse Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/types/inverse
  5. Psoriasis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840
  6. Psoriasis and intimacy. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/living-well/psoriasis-and-intimacy
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