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Psoriasis & Skin of Colour: It Actually MatterspSo & You

Does skin colour make a difference if you have psoriasis?

Psoriasis can happen to anyone from any region, ethnicity, or skin colour. But it does seem to occur more often in certain groups, including people of Asian, Pacific-Islander, or Hispanic descent.

The underlying immune mechanism seems to be the same, and the treatment options do not differ. But if you have darker skin, you might find this changes a few things. You have special considerations ranging from your medical assessment to your health-related risks to your quality of life, and sometimes even treatment adjustments are required:

Appearance and Medical Assessment

  • Psoriasis may appear different on darker skin than on lighter skin. This might affect your psoriasis severity assessment (PASI), which partly uses a measure of ‘redness’, which can appear different on darker skin.
  • You may have noticed that the available photos and tools that teach about the appearance of psoriasis mostly show lighter skin colours (often without the plaques too).
  • You might also find that colour-variation created by plaque psoriasis makes your symptoms more noticeable, if it’s a case of white scaling, or less noticeable in the case of redness.

“You have special considerations ranging from your medical assessment to your health-related risks to your quality of life, and sometimes even treatment adjustments are required”

Psychosocial Concerns

  • Psoriasis is so much more than a skin disease – and like beauty, it’s more than skin deep. Psoriasis can also cause emotional flare-ups. Whether it’s a ‘flare-up’ on a date night or a silly look on the subway, you can feel helpless, embarrassed and self-conscious.
  • Feelings of shame and social stigma are a problem for many people with psoriasis, and you are not alone. And did you know stigma can affect you differently depending on your ethnicity and the culture you currently live in?
  • Member of a visible minority? You’re already awesomely unique, and misperceptions about the nature and cause of psoriasis can amplify social challenges you might already feel.
  • If your confidence drops, you might withdraw from people and stay indoors more. This can become a vicious cycle, leading to depression and decreased quality of life! Just remember to keep your head held high. Don’t underestimate the importance of your emotional and social wellbeing.

Did you know?

For Canadians, our risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher if either or both of our parents are Aboriginal, African, Asian, Hispanic, or South Asian?

Visit the Canadian Diabetes Association to learn more.


  • Sometimes psoriasis comes with ‘friends’; it tends to coincide with several other health conditions. (Friends like those we can live without, can’t we?) They’re called comorbidities and they include psoriatic arthritis, metabolic syndromes (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity), cardiovascular disease, and liver problems, to name a few. Some racial groups are at increased risk for some of these conditions.
  • Talk about your combined risk factors with your healthcare provider to create a preventive health plan. There are many ways you can take control of your health, even if you already have a comorbidity.

Treatment Adjustments

  • Your family history, risk factors (those comorbidities mentioned above), and current health factors and medications all influence your recommended treatment options.
  • And if light therapy is a good option for you, you may find that your level of skin pigmentation can guide the approach, including the dose and duration of your treatment sessions.
  • Have an open chat with your healthcare team about your individual needs and preferences, and your level of skin pigmentation, to make sure you’re getting the most benefit and safety from your management plan.

So the long and short of it is -- skin colour certainly does matter in psoriasis!

Now that you’ve learned about these special considerations, you’ll be better able to take the lead in your healthcare. Are you ready to go for it? Try connecting with a specialized psoriasis treatment centre or clinic where the special considerations for your skin colour and ethnicity are likely to be well recognized and understood.

Do you have psoriasis and darker skin? What’s your story? I’d love to hear it!

Remember, we are special in our own way - celebrate your uniqueness! #yourock

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