I had been suffering with intermittent psoriasis for years and didn’t know what it was. Then I relocated from Atlanta to New York in 2011. The stress of moving brought out all the symptoms of my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) at once, making it easy to diagnose.
I was working at a prestigious law firm and new on the job. I had lesions on the tops of both of my feet and plantar psoriasis on the soles of my feet. Other areas were flaring, but I could easily cover them up with clothing.
I was terrified that other folks would see my lesions and didn’t even want to look at them myself. I had just bought new clothes to wear to work, including suits with skirts. If that wasn’t enough, my PsA was causing deformities in my feet, and my physician wanted me to wear sneakers!
Despite all of this, here’s how I got through it and kept my professional dignity.
1. Be honest about your condition
Openly talking about my condition was something I was very nervous about. After all, I was a new employee. Plus, I was a southern transplant, so I stuck out like a sore thumb already.
As it turned out, my human resources supervisor had lived with psoriasis since she was a teen! She really understood what I was going through. She assured me I could wear any footwear the doctor recommended, and she would field any questions about it on my behalf.
I’m not promising it will be this easy for you, but it’s always good to have someone in authority in your corner.
2. Consider wearing a lighter color palette for affected areas
Flakes are fun, aren’t they? If you deal with them on a regular basis, you may not have much navy blue or black in your closet.
Even though black tends to be a staple color in New York, there were times I had to go with a medium gray in the autumn and winter. This helped minimize the appearance of flakes on my clothes.
Sometimes your scalp may be the only affected area. Lighter dress shirts for men or blouses for ladies will help greatly.
3. Colored opaque tights can mask spots and red patches
I wore a lot of skirt suits and even dresses in the spring and summer. Colored tights became my best friends! I bought them in every shade. They made me look more put together and my lesions didn’t show through when I paired them with loafers or flats.
4. Forget heels and dress shoes if you have plantar psoriasis
Men, feel free to keep your footwear, so long as it’s still comfortable for you. Ladies, I know you don’t want to hear this, but binding shoes and high heels may be making your plantar psoriasis worse. Skin irritation encourages plaques.
If you can’t get permission to wear sneakers during a flare, consider keeping a pair of cozy slippers under your desk to wear while you are seated.
While psoriasis can make dressing for a professional setting slightly more difficult, it doesn’t have to be. Be open with your supervisors, and find what works best for you to remain comfortable and confident.
Lori-Ann Holbrook lives with her husband in Dallas, Texas. She writes a blog about “a day in the life of a city girl living with psoriatic arthritis” at CityGirlFlare.com.