The Get-Together: Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Five people gathered to share an anti-inflammatory meal and have an open, honest conversation about what life with visible skin disease, as well as joint symptoms, is really like.

The Get-Together: Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Five people get together to share an anti-inflammatory meal and dish on everything from stigma to relationships while living with psoriatic disease.
The Get-Together: Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Medically Reviewed

A t first glance, psoriasis is a skin disease: Skin symptoms likely led to your diagnosis, and if you’ve dealt with the stigma of psoriasis from others, it was probably because of visible skin lesions. But the disease is much more than skin deep.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system is overactive and attacks healthy tissue. In addition, the disease is inflammatory, meaning plaques and other symptoms are due to inflammation in the body, and systemic, meaning the inflammation can affect parts of your body other than your skin. Most notably, psoriasis leads to psoriatic arthritis in about 30 percent of people with psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).

What’s more, according to surveys conducted by the NPF:

  • 66 percent of people reported feeling angry, frustrated, or helpless about their condition
  • 50 percent said their diagnosis interferes with their ability to enjoy life
  • 30 percent reported feeling depressed

For these reasons, and many more, finding support and community can be key to managing psoriasis and psoriatic disease. Through other people’s stories and experiences, you’ll find you’re not alone, and you can regain balance and confidence while living with psoriasis.

Dipping Into Perceptions of Psoriasis and Self-Esteem

As the dinner party dips pita and veggies into an anti-inflammatory beet hummus, they discuss self-esteem and how they feel when outsiders stare, ask misinformed questions, or judge their skin. Make it yourself: Get the Beet Hummus recipe.

The fact that psoriasis is a visible skin condition means that dealing with the stigma of it is an unfortunate and common occurrence for people living with the disease. While some people’s questions or comments may stem from innocent curiosity or an intention to help, they can still hurt. Other times, it’s much worse: People may make accusations about your cleanliness or wrongfully assume skin flares are contagious. You may also feel judged for using mobility aids, handicapped parking permits, and more.

A global study published in 2018 surveyed more than 8,000 people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. Of the respondents, 84 percent reported experiencing discrimination or humiliation related to the disease.

Results from a study published in 2017 found that experiencing high levels of stigma around the disease was the most powerful predictor of depression in people with psoriasis.

Meanwhile, all of the misperceptions, judgment, and general anxiety about what others think can bring on more stress, which can make symptoms worse.

Stress has a bidirectional impact on psoriasis, explains Saakshi Khattri, MD, a dermatologist and rheumatologist, as well as an associate professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Stress of any kind can trigger a symptom flare, according to the NPF, and knowing about this association can lead to further stress. Psoriasis in and of itself is also stressful. Symptom management, frequent doctor’s visits, and worry about the effectiveness of your treatment can be stressful, says Dr. Khattri. All of this stress can trigger another flare, which can lead to more stress: “It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation,” she says.

Dishing on Relationships and Social Lives

The entrée at the get-together is an asparagus salad topped with salmon, which provides healthy omega-3 fats. While eating this dish, the group talks about developing trust in their relationships. Make it yourself: Get the Salmon and Asparagus Salad recipe.

Because psoriasis affects your appearance, you’ll undoubtedly need to have conversations with people in your life about your condition. You can tailor these conversations to the relationship you have with the person and what they need to know. Even if you feel intimidated at first, educating others about psoriasis and talking openly about what you’re experiencing can lift a weight off your shoulders.

“Having people around who know what it is will lessen the stress of having to explain what it is all the time,” says Khattri.

Letting people in can also help others be more understanding if you need to cancel plans because of a bad skin or joint flare or other symptoms, such as fatigue.

The bottom line on relationships: Surround yourself with people who will support you along the way and love you for who you are, regardless of your condition.

Savoring Experiences With a Psoriasis Community

While the group of five indulges in a dark chocolate mousse made healthier with avocado, they also reflect on the newfound community they’ve found during this meal and why that support is so important for people with psoriatic disease. Make it yourself: Get the Dark Chocolate–Avocado Mousse recipe.

Aside from opening up to loved ones about your disease, consider joining a support group, which provides a chance to connect with others who understand firsthand exactly what you’re going through with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

“It builds a community of like-minded people who are facing the same issues,” says Khattri. “Sharing stories can be powerful and make things more relatable. It helps to know you’re not alone.”

Where to Find Support for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

  1. Your doctor Your care team is likely in the know about in-person support groups that meet at a hospital or community center in your area.
  2. The NPF Take advantage of the NPF’s many programs and other offerings, from their One to One mentorship program to volunteer opportunities and conferences and other events.
  3. The Arthritis Foundation Sign up for a Connect Group to meet others in your community who understand what you’re going through and learn about local, peer-led support groups and events.
  4. Social media Connect virtually by searching for and sharing posts on Instagram or TikTok that incorporate relatable hashtags like #psoriasiswarrior, #psoriasislife, and #psoriaticarthritissucks.

Last Thoughts: What to Know About Joint Pain as Someone With Psoriasis

As they take the last bites of their meal, participants with psoriasis learn from those in the group with psoriatic arthritis how to self-advocate if your joints hurt and how treating psoriasis now can help stave off future health concerns.  

While managing dry, itchy, scaly patches from psoriasis, some people also start to experience joint pain, stiffness, and swelling caused by psoriatic arthritis. Left untreated, this can lead to deformities of the joints.

Not everyone with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, but this related condition is thought to occur in approximately 30 percent of people with psoriasis, according to the NPF. Psoriatic arthritis usually starts about 10 years after developing psoriasis, but some people may be diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis before — or even without — a psoriasis diagnosis.

If you have psoriasis and start to experience joint symptoms, reach out to your doctor right away. Chances are, you’ll get a referral to meet with a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating psoriatic arthritis.

Although receiving another diagnosis when you’re already managing psoriasis can further affect your mental well-being, know this: The lifestyle changes you’ve made to manage psoriasis — managing stress, eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting adequate sleep — can go a long way toward protecting your joints, too. More important, various medications with different mechanisms of action can treat both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This should, in some ways, be reassuring, says Khattri.

Finding an effective treatment that controls psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis — minimizing or even clearing skin symptoms and relieving joint symptoms — can also go a long way toward improving your self-confidence, emotional health, and overall quality of life.

Psoriasis-Friendly Recipes

You, too, can eat these anti-inflammatory dishes from The Get-Together. Save or download the recipes below and make them at home.

1
Beet Hummus
Getty Images

Beet Hummus

Beets are an easy mix-in to homemade hummus, and their vibrant color adds a stunning pink hue to the dish. The result is a satisfying snack with protein and fiber that will keep hunger at bay and is a great vehicle for veggie sticks.

contains  Sesame
4.4 out of 29 reviews

SERVES

8

CALORIES PER SERVING

165

PREP TIME

10 min

TOTAL TIME

10 min

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 roasted beet, skin removed and quartered
2 lemons, juiced
3 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp kosher salt

Directions

1

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

165

total fat

13g

saturated fat

1.7g

protein

3g

carbohydrates

10g

fiber

2.7g

sugar

2.3g

added sugar

0g

sodium

183mg

TAGS:

Sesame, Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Anti-Inflammatory, Quick & Easy, Snack
2
asparagus salmon salad
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy

Asparagus Salad With Grilled Salmon

This salad is a great way to use up leftovers, and the mustard vinaigrette works with pretty much any lean protein or combination of spring veggies. You get a double shot of satiating protein from the egg and salmon, and the fish also adds a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats to your plate, according to the American Heart Association. Salmon from a can or pouch will work just as well as fresh and delivers similar nutritional benefits without any of the fuss.

contains  Eggs, Fin fish
5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

2

CALORIES PER SERVING

331

PREP TIME

15 min

TOTAL TIME

15 min

Ingredients

4 cups mixed greens
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, sliced in half, steamed
¼ cup fresh peas, steamed
6 oz salmon, grilled
1 soft- or hard-boiled egg
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1

Divide salad greens between two serving plates. Top each with half the asparagus, peas, salmon, egg, and chives.

2

In a small bowl or covered jar, vigorously mix all vinaigrette ingredients. Drizzle over salad just before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

331

total fat

20g

saturated fat

3.5g

protein

25g

carbohydrates

12g

fiber

4g

sugar

6.6g

added sugar

2.9g

sodium

303mg

Tips

To make this salad keto-friendly, leave out the honey and add drizzle each salad with an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, and replace the peas with extra leafy greens.

To make this salad keto-friendly, leave out the honey and add drizzle each salad with an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, and replace the peas with extra leafy greens.

TAGS:

Eggs, Fin fish, Anti-Inflammatory, Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Lunch, Quick & Easy
3
Chocolate avocado pudding
Adobe Stock

Dark Chocolate–Avocado Mousse

There’s nothing better than ending your day with a rich, chocolatey treat — except maybe knowing that the treat is actually good for you and your gut microbiome. Naturally gluten-free, this dark chocolate mousse is packed with healthy fats and fiber from the avocado, and it gets a boost of probiotics and protein from the Greek yogurt. But you’d never know any of that from its creamy texture and rich chocolatey goodness!

contains  Dairy, Soy
4.3 out of 12 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

243

PREP TIME

5 min

TOTAL TIME

5 min

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados, pit and skin removed and discarded
½ cup plain, low-fat (1 percent) Greek yogurt
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
¼ cup plain, unsweetened soy milk (plus more as needed)

Directions

1

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add additional soy milk to reach your desired texture. Chill until served.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size½ cup

calories

243

total fat

12g

saturated fat

2.5g

protein

6g

carbohydrates

32g

fiber

7.6g

sugar

19.9g

added sugar

18.4g

sodium

62mg

TAGS:

Dairy, Soy, Family-Friendly, Dessert, Gluten-free, Anti-Inflammatory, Heart-Healthy, Low-Sodium, High-Fiber, Vegetarian, Quick & Easy