By Nyaka Mwanza
When you have psoriasis, shopping can be a little tricky. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes scaly patches of itchy or painful dry and thickened skin, called plaques. Psoriasis may be confused with eczema, another condition that creates rash-like patches of itchy dry skin. Comparing eczema vs psoriasis, both also have triggers that can bring on symptoms or make them worse. In the case of psoriasis, triggers may include certain fabrics, metals, or even exposures, which can make building the look you want a challenge — but style is still possible with these tips.
1. Check Your Labels
How your clothes fit, their color, and what they’re made of are all factors to consider when dressing for the day with psoriasis. In some people, clothing can irritate the skin and cause psoriasis flares.
Some common psoriasis triggers to consider when building your wardrobe or a particular outfit include:
- Excessive sweating
- Certain metals
- Injury or broken skin
- Sun overexposure
- Synthetic fabric
Wool and synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, tend to cause overheating, excessive sweating, itching, and irritation. Tight-fitting clothing and stiff, thick materials can chafe the skin, retain moisture and heat, and tend to be less well-ventilated than looser, draped, or billowy clothes.
Try scanning the racks for cuts that will drape more loosely on areas of your body affected by psoriasis. Then, be sure to check the label to find out what materials are used before you try on or purchase an item of clothing — you’ll want to make sure the garment isn’t made of anything that might make your psoriasis worse.
In general, try to stock your wardrobe with clothes made from natural fabrics, such as cotton or bamboo. Your skin will thank you.
2. Upgrade Your Jewelry
Like clothing, what your jewelry is made of matters to your look and comfort. If you tend to be sensitive to certain metals, like nickel, play it safe and opt for jewelry made from pure (not plated) gold, silver, and platinum to reduce your risk of having a reaction.
How jewelry fits and sits on your body also plays a role in psoriasis symptoms. (This is due to the Koebner phenomenon, in which skin irritation or trauma can trigger new patches of psoriasis to develop.) For instance, rings, which are tighter-fitting to ensure they don't slip off, may be more likely to cause irritation and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms than say, a loose bracelet.
When choosing something sparkly, it might be best to opt for loose pieces, such as long necklaces and larger bracelets. If Koebnerization makes you unsure about piercings, you can also try wearing clip-on earrings and ear cuffs.
3. Top It All Off
What you wear may matter most when it's hot and sunny, as sun exposure, sunburn, heat, and sweat can sometimes trigger or worsen symptoms. For a fashionable option that provides added protection against the sun’s harmful rays, remember that a good hat can make an outfit. Dress down with a baseball cap or go glamorous with a wide-brimmed option and oversized shades.
Dress For Success: Putting It Together
Making psoriasis-savvy fashion choices is an important part of looking and feeling your best. The fabric (natural over synthetic), fit (loose over form-fitting), and function (breathable over non-wicking) of your clothes can all have an impact on your skin. Here’s what to remember:
- Clothes made out of natural fabrics, like cotton, are best.
- Avoid jewelry on areas where psoriasis affects your skin, but play with loose-fitting options as well as high-quality metals.
- Wear protective but cute accessories like sunglasses and a hat on sunny days.
- Opt for long sleeves or pants that create a protective barrier from the sun or other irritation.
- Stay cooler by wearing light-colored clothing, which absorbs less heat than dark clothes.
Nyaka's bio: Nyaka Mwanza is a freelance writer for MyHealthTeams. She completed a B.A. in Communications: Visual Media from American University and undertook post-baccalaureate studies in Health/Behavioral Communications and Marketing at Johns Hopkins University. Nyaka is a Zambian-born, E.U. citizen who was raised in sub-Saharan Africa and Jacksonville, N.C. However, she has called Washington, D.C., home for most of her life. For much of her career, Nyaka has worked with large global health nonprofits focused on improving health outcomes for women and children. Nyaka believes words hold immense power, and her job is to meet the reader where they are, when they’re there.