Plaque psoriasis is much more than a skin condition. It’s a chronic ailment that requires constant management, and it can take a toll on people living with its symptoms on a day-to-day basis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriasis have higher rates of depression and face challenges at work because of the strain it places on their lives.

Friends and family often experience many of these same challenges along with their loved one. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 88 percent of people living with someone with psoriasis had an impaired quality of life. This shows there’s a need for friends and family to help everyone affected by psoriasis.

If you know such a person, you may want to offer them support. However, it can be challenging to know what to say or what to do. Here are some tips on how to break the barrier and give them the support they need.

In your rush to offer help, it may be tempting to give your friend advice or recommend resources. You may also try to downplay the condition to make them feel better. However, this can send a message that you don’t think their symptoms are a big deal. It may feel dismissive and cause them to withdraw from you.

Instead, remain present when your friend voluntarily opens up about how they’re feeling. If you make them feel comfortable and safe with you, they may tell you exactly what they need. It may be as simple as not bringing attention to a psoriasis outbreak before they choose to discuss it.

Psoriasis is best known for causing itchy, red patches on the skin, but it’s also linked to heart disease, obesity, and depression. People with psoriasis are about 1.5 times more likely to report mild to severe depression than those without the disease.

In order to support your friend’s well-being, help break the feeling of isolation. Invite them to social events or ask them to join you for a walk or a coffee. If they want to stay in, join them for a movie or a night of conversation at home.

Because psoriasis places a strain on family members, supporting your friend’s support network can improve everyone’s health and well-being. If the family has young children, offer to babysit, walk the dog, or run errands. Before jumping in to help, ask your friend which activities they could use a hand with.

Stress is a trigger for psoriasis outbreaks. Your friend may need to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest in order to manage the condition. Be supportive of their choices, and don’t pressure them into activities that cause undue stress. Even if you think you’re helping them have fun, it can backfire when symptoms get worse.

When you want to provide support, it can be difficult to wait for a friend to come to you for assistance. So instead of waiting, you can gently ask them how they’re feeling in general. It’s not necessary to ask direct questions, such as whether they’re experiencing a psoriasis flare or taking a new medication.

As a friend, you can provide general emotional support. Opening the door for them to talk may be all that’s needed for them to feel comfortable reaching out. Especially if your friendship grows closer, you will develop a better sense of how you can help.

Plaque psoriasis is linked to many issues that challenge quality of life. Many people with psoriasis rely on friends and family for support. By offering that support, you can help your friend live a happier and healthier life. Just make sure to let them take the lead, be gentle, and remain present.