Ashish Agarwal has been living with psoriasis since 2005. Today the 33-year-old is the founder of DermaMatrimony.com, an online site designed to match those with chronic skin conditions – including vitiligo – in pursuit of a marriage relationship.
Launched in March 2018, DermaMatrimony.com caters to the more than 2-4% of the world’s population that live with chronic skin conditions including vitiligo, psoriasis, scleroderma, ichthyosis, albinism, eczema, burns and scars. While there hasn’t been a marriage match yet – the site has been live for less than two months – DermaMatrimony.com is poised for success with 827 members and 12-15 new registrations every day.
“I’m sure my experiences are no different than that of any other person dealing with a chronic skin issue affecting physical appearance,” said Ashish, who is in a place of self-acceptance today. “The public stares, odd questions and sometimes discriminatory behavior- I have experienced it all.”
In fact, it was Ashish’s own journey with psoriasis that led him to create DermaMatrimony.com. When Ashish first developed psoriasis in 2005, he was also struggling with a stuttering impediment.
“Having psoriasis and stuttering together was double trouble for me,” said Ashish, who shared that he struggled with depression at the time. “Psoriasis used to shatter my confidence and when you are low in confidence, you are bound to stutter more. So, it was a vicious cycle and I was trapped in it with no way out.”
In 2013, Ashish reached a breaking point and decided to quit his job to focus on his health. One year later, he started a blog – www.psoriasisselfmanagement.com – and today he is a proud advocate and regularly organizes events for those with psoriasis and other skin conditions in New Delhi. Through these connections, Ashish started to recognize the shared struggle between those with chronic skin conditions, especially when it comes to dating and marriage.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about skin issues such as vitiligo and psoriasis,” said Ashish, who is currently single. “Skin conditions can lead to frequent rejections and eventually delay marriage as a result. People might even make compromises, settle for less or never get married because of the difficulties in finding a partner.”
Even if you do find a partner, Ashish points out, there are still potential issues down the road. For example, the skin condition could progress and change the marriage relationship. Or the family you marry into may not be as understanding as your spouse.
That’s where DermaMatrimony.com comes in. Creating a community of understanding in which those with chronic skin conditions can find acceptance, the site aims to help individuals move past their insecurities and focus on a more important goal – finding love. The best part? The person you’re matched with understands what it’s like to live with a chronic skin condition – and likely has a family that understands it too – removing potential barriers and stress points.
Ashish hopes the site can provide relief and support for those with chronic skin conditions seeking to date, especially in his own country.
“In India, there are instances where vitiligo and other skin issues have become grounds for divorce,” said Ashish, sharing that social awareness and acceptance of skin conditions is worse in developing countries, including India. “This constant stress and anxiety can severely affect the overall health and quality of life.”
DermaMatrimony.com, which is accessible via desktop, tablet and mobile, is currently free to register and use. Visit DermaMatrimony.com to sign up today.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.