Psoriasis is associated with significant physical, psychological, social and economic burden, the cumulative effect of which may result in failure to achieve 'full life potential' in some patients, termed 'cumulative life course impairment' (CLCI). In this concept, the burden of stigmatization, and physical and psychological comorbidities (risk factors for cumulative impairment) and coping strategies and external factors (having potential moderating effects), interact to cause lifetime impairment. Components of CLCI are supported by cross-sectional data; however, the cumulative nature of impairment in patients with psoriasis is not yet established. Nonetheless, CLCI makes intuitive sense to many dermatologists who recognize the cumulative impact of psoriasis on the lives of some patients. This supplement explores the causes and mechanisms of CLCI qualitatively by presenting cases which are representative of typical patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. These cases demonstrate the effect of psoriasis in influencing major life-changing decisions and altering the course of patients' lives, preventing patients from attaining their life goals, pursuing their chosen career, gaining a desired educational level, developing social relationships, gaining full pleasure from family life or having children. All these patients believe that their lives would have taken a different course had they not had psoriasis. Additional research to determine how CLCI occurs and to identify the risk factors for cumulative impairment is required. Understanding the key risk factors for CLCI may help physicians identify patients who are more vulnerable to the cumulative impact of psoriasis, resulting in more appropriate treatment decisions earlier in the disease course.