Whatever your job, you’ll share an understanding that psoriasis poses its own separate challenges in the workplace. Stress, tiredness and the work environment can affect everyone during a typical working week but when you have psoriasis it can also be the trigger for a flare-up.
Your healthcare professional can offer you additional advice and support in how to open up a dialogue with your work colleagues, should you wish to do so.
Your psoriasis doesn’t need to cause discomfort or embarrassment to you or your colleagues and sometimes all it takes is to have a good conversation with them. Understandably this is a highly personal subject and it may not be easy, especially if they are not familiar with the condition, however, as with many situations open communication is often a welcomed approach that can help put everyone at ease. By sharing your knowledge in a positive way you’ll create an opportunity to correct unhelpful misconceptions and encourage a more supportive working environment. It could even be the key to unlocking your full potential at work, if you aren’t already on the way to reaching it!
Here’s how “Lee”, 29, a chef, handled talking to his colleagues about his psoriasis, and helped them to understand what triggered his condition.
Read Lee’s tips on making his work environment work for him:
- Don’t delay - Talk to your colleagues about your psoriasis from the off, that way there’s less time for misconceptions to develop. Tell them it’s not contagious and make it clear it’s something you live with and are able to manage.
- Be upbeat and honest - Being positive in your attitude toward discussions about psoriasis will encourage people to relax about your ability to manage it. Be honest about the impact it has on your life and what might trigger it at work. Help colleagues to understand what it is like for you but that it won’t stop you from doing your job. You may find the following suggestions helpful in starting up a conversation:
- I wouldn’t want anyone to be concerned by the red patches on my hands/face.
- It’s nothing to worry about, it’s not contagious.
- I have psoriasis which is a skin condition, and it flares up from time to time, particularly if it gets a bit stressful at work.
- It can be really itchy and annoying but most of the time I am able to deal with it.
- Your attitude will set the mood for colleagues - Most likely the people you work with will respect and appreciate your openness about psoriasis and will take that as a cue not to be embarrassed about it in return. The more you can communicate that you're at ease with psoriasis, the easier it may be for others to understand your situation.
- Manage your workload to minimise flare-ups - Try to complete the most important jobs when you have the most energy as this may help you to stay in control of flare-ups. Whilst unexpected busy periods will undoubtedly occur, try to plan ahead and avoid leaving essential tasks to the last minute when you may not be feeling at your best as exhaustion and stress can often trigger the condition. Of course, you may prefer not to talk about your condition at work. And it's your right to make that choice. But the stress of not talking about your psoriasis may actually make the condition worse.
What’s in your working wardrobe?
Choosing appropriate clothing and styles when you have psoriasis and a flare up can be a challenge for work or any time. Loose clothing that doesn't rub against your skin will help you feel comfortable and avoid aggravating the inflammation. Fabrics made of cotton or other natural fibres may be more comfortable than synthetics, which can trap heat and moisture. It is also possible to choose clothing that will cover the redness and lesions, if you prefer to do so. However, not everyone feels that they want to cover up it’s really a case of how comfortable you feel with your skin the way it is.