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7 tips for your friends and family on how to help you get through the holidays flare-free

If you’ve got psoriasis or dermatitis you might feel like you’ve had to explain your condition, and the needs that come with it, uncountable times. This can be quite tiring so today we are taking on the task! This article is written for your relatives and friends in an effort to help them understand how they can help you in the most beneficial way. Message them a link to this article, or print it out and hand it to them if you’ve been feeling like the holidays are just one big explanatory quiz of do’s and dont’s.

 Dear friends and family

Psoriasis and eczema come in different levels of severity. The more severe cases can be quite life-changing, both for the person diagnosed with the condition and for family and friends as well. It can be hard to know how to help, and when to do so, but with these 7 tips, we’ll try to create an overview of some of the important ways you can aid someone with a skin condition.

  1. Educate yourself 

Whether the person close to you has psoriasis or eczema, the best way to help them is to learn about their condition. It can be tremendously straining always having to explain your condition and the restriction or difficulties that follow. In order to really help, it’s important to take on the task of understanding their condition the best you can. Read up on the various aspects that can affect a chronic skin condition, including diet, skincare routines and stress. Good sources of information are the HelloSkin blog, WebMD and Healthline.

Once you know what psoriasis or eczema entails, it’ll be easier for you to understand what happens to the person affected, both physically and psychologically, and you’ll be able to help, even when they’re not able to put their needs into words. This is perhaps the greatest gift you’ll give them, as the holidays can be a time where many people who deal with chronic conditions that require extra consideration can feel like they might be a bother to friends and family. Perhaps have a look at our post on stress and flare-ups and what causes it, in order to fully understand why the holidays is a particularly hard time.

  1. Don’t play the expert

Did your aunt tell you about some magical trick that completely relieved someone in her book club from psoriasis? Good for her, but it might be best to keep it to yourself. Psoriasis and eczema are chronic conditions and they can’t be cured, but they can be treated and coped with. Those who know how to do this best are dermatologists and the people with the condition. They’ve likely tried a lot of different treatments, creams and methods and they know how to find what works for them.  

Also, keep in mind that chronic skin  conditions are very sensitive and giving incorrect advice or tips might cause the person’s skin to flare-up or even catch infections.

  1. Listen

Lend an ear or be a shoulder to cry on. Stressful periods can feel overwhelming and when you have a condition that requires you to stick to routines on a daily basis, the frustrations of the many disruptions of December can feel quite heavy. Help your friend or family-member by taking their feelings seriously, ask them what you can do to help, and let them know that you are there for them if they need a breather.

  1. Don’t infantilize

It’s nice to have a helping hand and someone who understands, but don’t make assumptions about what they need. It’s true that it can be difficult to cope during stressful periods, but be careful not to be overly helpful. You don’t want to take away the dignity of the person you want to care for. If they’re already feeling vulnerable because of a flare-up you should try and empower your friend or family member instead and be careful not to take away more of their autonomy.

  1. Suggest stress-relieving activities

In coherence with nr. 4 you can help out by reminding your friend of the positive things that give them energy. We all know how hard it can be to claim some space or pull the plug when we need it. Encourage your friend to do the things that make them feel good and are beneficial for their condition. Perhaps go to the movies together or take them to a yoga-class. Most important of all: make them laugh! Laughter has many benefits and it’s a nice break from some of the worries, and as a bonus you’ll feel good from it as well!

  1. Stock up

Coming home for the the holidays can be a challenge for a person with a chronic skin condition. Many skincare products contain ingredients that can be harmful to their skin.

A way to help is to make sure that you have alternatives to your normal moisturizers and bath-soaps that are suitable for sensitive skin. It’s a jungle to figure out which products are safe to use even for those affected by the skin condition, but HelloSkin has several packages with products which our medical team has screened for harmful ingredients. This package from cetraben has a good mix of products, suitable for both eczema and psoriasis. 

  1. A little hug goes a long way

Feeling isolated or alienated because of your skin can have a big psychological impact on someone living with a chronic condition. What you may not know is that some people with skin conditions often lack physical contact with others- a phenomenon called “skin hunger”. This can either be a result of holding themselves back or because others have a preconceived idea of the skin condition as being contagious or the likes of it (it’s not!).

Studies have shown that a warm embrace can trigger the body's protective functions against stress and a hug also increases the production of the hormone oxytocin. Clinical trials haven shown that this hormone make humans feel less fatigue and causes us to have steadier physical function.

Remember, what really helps the person close to you are the little details, such as discovering they don't have to ask for special treatment because their family already bought that soap they always use, or maybe it's that little moment they completely forgot their flare-up because they were too distracted by having a good time with the people they love.

Making the holidays about the good things is what matters, and even a little help goes a long way. The difference these efforts make will leave your friend or relative grateful and relieved during this stressful period.

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