Making Psoriatic Arthritis a Visible Illness

I know. I know. Even as I sit down to write about this, I really didn’t expect it to be a “thing.”

What I mean is, I didn’t shave my head to raise awareness for invisible illnesses or for any “greater” purpose other than sheer practicality. That's right - I shaved my head.

Making the invisible, visible.

What started out as practical reasons that I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to, quickly turned into something more. What started as a hairstyle choice became a lesson on life with the “invisible” illness part of psoriatic arthritis.

Why would you shave your head?

I’m not Shinaid O'Connor or Brittany Spears going through some sort of emotional or mental breakdown. I promise, I’m not. The reality is that there were two big driving forces behind making this decision.

The first is that I have these two patches of psoriasis on my scalp that just won’t go away. Secondly, I’ve been experiencing an increase in hair thinning and hair loss. I’m reasonably sure that it is a combined effect of hormones, medication side effects, and whatnot.

Either way, it was getting ridiculously annoying. Especially when in order for it to look decent, it required quite a few hair products and way too much time and energy, especially for a work from home, homeschooling, chronically ill momma. Really, my limited energy could go to so many better things.

Let's be fair, it looks pretty cool. And hey, let’s face it, I was really drawn to the just “totally not caring” nature of a female with a buzzcut. With the right look, it can be total bad*ss. I know, not even being able to type the word bad*ass totally negates my actual bad*ssness, but whatever.

A different kind of attention

So there you have it, there is my first and foremost answer to the number one question people have asked me, “Why?” Here is what I find to be the most fascinating part, all of a sudden, people started asking, “Are you well?” or “Are you okay?”

Or even the somewhat bold and invasive questions of others, “Are you sick?” Then there were the starers. Like really, outright staring.

Which prompted my response of, “Hmmm. No more than usual I guess.” Like, all of a sudden because I had what amounted to a buzz-cut, I must be sick.

Somehow, because I embraced whatever was going on with my hair and psoriasis on my head, I am now “sicker” than I was- if that is even a thing. Now suddenly, my “invisible illness” is visible.

I've been sick this whole time!

People assume that because I don’t have a standard women’s haircut that I must have had no other choice. Did I have a choice? Did I not? Maybe yes and maybe no. But I don’t think that is the point.

I am well aware that many people don’t care a single bit about what others think about them, sick or not. But for the rest of us, it takes some getting used to. Suddenly I noticed that because of a random decision about my hair, all of a sudden, people began to see me as “sick.” Which I have been for years. Honestly, I kind of messed with my mind.

Have you ever experienced that moment when your “invisible” illness becomes very visible to others? How did it make you feel? Have you ever buzzed your head in an effort to better manage your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis?

I'll update my profile picture once this article posts! If you've ever done the same thing, show me your pics!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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