Acne, psoriasis, and rosacea, all visible skin conditions, can be physically and mentally debilitating for anyone — famous or not. With over 3,000 types of skin disorders, about 30 percent of Canadians struggle with some kind of skin disease. 

All of us at some point have been bothered by a pesky rash, bump, pimple, burn, or skin scrape. So it is not surprising that over 40 percent of our doctor visits are for a skin problem. Following a diagnosis, most patients see improvement within a few weeks; however, what if the skin prognosis is serious, worsens or requires extensive treatment?

Beyond the surface

Millions of Canadians start their day at the mercy of their skin disease, with lengthy regimens of ointment applications, pills, countless medical appointments, and even the fear of being judged for looking different. Simply staring in the mirror can deflate ones willingness to leave their home. Furthermore, some suffer from chronic pain caused by their skin disease. The majority of those living with a skin condition feel self-conscious, embarrassed, frustrated, and unattractive, which can lead to serious psychological repercussions and even depression.

“A skin disease is rarely just skin deep — profoundly affecting patients both physically and psychologically.”

Why are so many patients living with these frustrations? Skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and rosacea often create a cycle of low expectations and poor adherence to prescribed treatments. Some live with the pain and discomfort without realising the psychological burden that can set in. Other patients may not appreciate the necessity to actively manage their skin condition over the years, especially when other factors like treatment side-e ects, convenience, and costs add stress to their life.

Luckily, in Canada, we have access to dermatologists and researchers specialising in skin issues seeking the best solutions and treatments using the latest science and technologies.

Expert advice

So, when is it time to see a dermatologist? If you feel your current treatment is not working, if your skin is getting worse, or if your skin is affecting your self-esteem, ask your family physician to refer you to a dermatologist.

Dermatologists prescribe treatments that can significantly improve many chronic skin diseases. You must ask for help and not accept your skin disease as something you should just live with. A dermatologist has the experience and knowledge of the latest treatment to best treat your skin issue.

Also, partnering medical treatment with a strong support system is key to helping patients living with a chronic skin condition. Skin illnesses have a huge impact on the quality of life. Many isolate themselves, skip opportunities to gather in a social setting to avoid being seen, or they are simply too ‘blue’ and would rather not connect with others. Some even lose their employment due to accumulating sick days which can send patients into a negative spiral, especially if medical insurance coverage is consequently terminated. Connecting with those who understand can make a world of difference.

You are not alone

“A skin disease is rarely just skin deep — profoundly affecting patients both physically and psychologically,” says the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance’s President, Barbara-Anne Hodge. The Alliance is a non-profit patient group that educates, supports, and advocates for Canadian skin patients.

“Thousands of Canadians are missing out on life because they believe that they need to tolerate their symptoms and adjust their activities for the rest of their lives,” she explains. Whether you or someone you care about is living with a skin condition, start the conversation today, get support, trust your instinct, research your treatmentoptions, and be proactive about caring for your skin. You are not alone.