Clothes shopping can be tricky, especially when you have psoriasis. In addition to your personal style preferences, you may consider factors like protecting your skin against the elements and finding fabrics that aren’t irritating.
Members of MyPsoriasisTeam often discuss how psoriasis impacts their fashion choices.
One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, “I NEVER wore long-sleeved shirts before, but that has all changed now.” Another member responded, “I rarely wore long sleeves myself, but I’ve noticed when I’m out in public, people’s attention always goes to my arms when I’m talking with them. It’s very embarrassing for me. I’m a very self-conscious person. So, I decided to cover up my psoriasis.”
People with psoriasis have different opinions on whether to cover up with clothing, or balance protecting their skin with getting some benefits from sunlight and air. One MyPsoriasisTeam member stated, “Wearing the least coverage of fabric helps, as the fabric absorbs any oil from your skin. Even a little sunlight helps your skin, so I wear shorts as long as I can in the fall and then again in early spring. You need to be comfortable with your skin and not mind showing it to the world. It often presents an opportunity to educate people.”
Another member finds it beneficial to cover up, but with light fabrics: “I have issues with what I wear. I’m retired, so I don’t have to worry about business attire, but I can’t wear jeans or anything close to my sore-covered legs. I have a collection of thin cotton joggers I wear most of the time.”
Others find it empowering to wear what they like and let their skin show. “I don’t hide from my psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. I will not let others affect how I dress,” one member said. “If people want to stare, then let them. If they seem bewildered, I will go talk to them about my condition so they can become knowledgeable about it.”
In a professional setting, people may not always understand why you’re wearing long sleeves or avoiding dark clothing that shows skin flakes. For one MyPsoriasisTeam member, this issue caused a problem at work: “I’m a nurse and having a bad flare-up at the minute (I think because the hospital is so stressful), so I’m wearing long sleeves under my uniform,” she explained. “A lady doing a hygiene audit (in the busiest week of the whole year) reported me for my sleeves! I’m so angry!”
Other members encouraged her to use the opportunity to raise awareness about psoriasis, stressing that the skin condition is not an infection and not contagious. While sharing about psoriasis is the right move for some, it’s also OK if you don’t feel like explaining yourself and find it more comfortable to cover up. In that case, choosing the right fabrics can help.
You can also set up a private meeting with human resources or your manager to discuss medical exemptions from uniform rules or dress codes. According to the Job Accommodation Network, “If the employee cannot meet the dress code because of a disability, the employer may still require compliance if the dress code is job-related and consistent with business necessity. An employer also may require that an employee with a disability meet dress standards required by federal law.”
Hopefully, by reaching out to collaborate with your employer, you can come up with a solution that works for everyone. Ask your dermatologist for documentation of your psoriasis symptoms and treatment recommendations, so you can help educate your employer about the reasons for your request.
If you’re wearing sleeves, it’s important to find fabrics that help you stay cool and aren’t too restrictive. Generally, people with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis find it best to stay away from wool and synthetic clothes made from nylon and polyester to avoid overheating. Instead, opt for breathable fabric made from 100 percent cotton, bamboo, lyocell, Tencel, or silk.
Choosing loose-fitting sleeves and the right colors can also help. For instance, if you worry about flakes, lighter colors might be best. But if your plaques tend to bleed, black or dark fabrics can be a better option.
One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, “If you have psoriasis in your ears or scalp, dark-colored tops are impossible. I find that natural fibers that allow your skin to breathe help. I used to take three or four showers a day in the winter and then slather my skin with Vaseline, which does not mix well with clothing!”
When wearing sleeves, you’ll also have to consider whether your psoriasis creams, ointments, and lotions will stick to or stain the fabric. If that’s a concern, skip the silk tops and give your skin extra time to absorb topicals before getting dressed.
Some companies offer clothing options specifically designed for people with psoriasis or other skin conditions. These garments are made from moisture-wicking fabrics with features like removable tags and smooth seams. As an added bonus, depending on your insurance coverage, you may be able to use money from a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to cover the costs.
Having psoriasis shouldn’t mean giving up on fashion. Remember these three tips:
It’s also important to choose hypoallergenic and dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergents. Watch out for certain clothing dyes that can aggravate sensitive skin. Also let your dry cleaner know you have more sensitive skin. Take note of brands that work well for you, so you’ll have go-to clothing companies the next time you need a wardrobe update.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 116,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
How do you avoid skin irritation when choosing clothes? Do you notice a positive change when wearing breathable fabrics, or do you prefer to go sleeveless? Post your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyPsoriasisTeam.