Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes a buildup of skin cells on the surface of the skin. In turn, this buildup causes scaly red patches to form. These patches may flare up without warning.

If you’re living with psoriasis and feel self-conscious about your symptoms, you’re not alone.

Psoriasis affects more than 8 million Americans. Research suggests it may have a significant impact on self-esteem. However, you don’t have to let psoriasis control your life.

Here are some helpful tips on how to boost your self-confidence when coping with a psoriasis flare.

Your skin is just one aspect of who you are. It doesn’t define you as a person.

When you start to feel frustrated or embarrassed about psoriasis symptoms, remind yourself of the many positive qualities you have that other people appreciate.

For example, maybe your loved ones admire your loyalty, your intelligence, and your sense of humor.

Instead of dwelling on negative feelings about psoriasis, try to focus on the things you like about yourself. This may help you accept that your friends and family members care more about those traits, too.

You might be tempted to avoid your mirror during a flare up, but taking time to look at your skin without judgment may start to normalize your condition.

This may help you feel more comfortable with your body.

When you learn to accept that flare-ups are a regular part of life, you may begin to see psoriasis as a small part of a much bigger picture. Your skin doesn’t change your other physical attributes, such as your eyes, your smile, or your personal sense of style.

You’re likely your own harshest critic when it comes to your appearance.

If you can learn to love your body, others can too.

When you’re around people you trust, you don’t need to pretend you don’t have psoriasis.

In fact, trying to ignore it might make things more awkward. If you seem uncomfortable discussing it, your friends and family will likely feel the same way.

A better strategy may be to address your psoriasis openly. Let your social circle know it’s OK to ask questions. Help them understand it’s not something they need to tiptoe around.

Talking about your condition with friends may do wonders for your confidence.

You may find there’s no need to hide it.

You may also find it helpful to join a support group to talk about your psoriasis with people who understand what you’re going through.

Sharing your experience with other people who have the same condition may be therapeutic and energizing. Even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking at first, listening to your fellow support group members may provide a powerful reminder that you’re not alone.

If there aren’t any psoriasis support groups in your local area, another option is to join an online discussion forum or message board.

Feeling like you’re part of a community that accepts you without judgment may help you go about your daily life with a more confident and positive outlook.

Getting regular exercise is good for your body and your mind.

Whether it’s playing a team sport, working out at the gym, or just going for a hike in the woods, staying active may help boost your confidence and make you feel more connected with your body.

Exercise also helps decrease stress, which has benefits for managing psoriasis.

That’s because stress and psoriasis flares are often closely related.

If you feel stressed out about your psoriasis, it may lead to a flare-up. If you experience a flare-up, it may cause you more stress.

Anything you can do to manage your stress levels may help minimize the severity of your psoriasis symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

You may be tempted to hide psoriasis patches with clothes that cover up your skin, but wearing long sleeves and pants during the summer isn’t always comfortable or fun.

Give yourself permission to wear the clothes you feel most comfortable in, even if they don’t hide your psoriasis.

You’ll feel more confident when you’re dressed in something you like, rather than something you feel forced to wear.

Fashion is a form of expression. Any opportunity you can take to express yourself is a chance to separate your sense of identity from your psoriasis.

When you start to feel down about your psoriasis, venturing outside your comfort zone may help you challenge your negative emotions and build your confidence.

Consider pushing yourself to do things that your psoriasis has held you back from in the past. For example, say yes when someone invites you to a party, or wear shorts or a dress when you go to the beach.

The more you push yourself to live a free and full life with psoriasis, the less power the condition will have over you. It may not be easy at first, but it will absolutely be worth it.

There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but treatment can manage symptoms. And learning how to be confident in your own skin may greatly reduce its emotional impact.

If you find yourself struggling to manage self-esteem issues related to your psoriasis, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about mental health support.

They may refer you to a mental health specialist who can help you develop a positive relationship with your body, as well as strategies for coping with the emotional challenges that psoriasis may pose.