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The Do's and Don'ts of Showing Skin in the Workplace (And It's Not What You're Thinking!)

For some living with psoriasis or CSU, picking what to wear in the morning is very tough. Here are some tips for putting on what you want to wear while living with your skin condition.

Get your minds out of the gutter, folks, we’re not talking about some sort of risqué office experiment here! It’s time to have an honest chat about what it’s like to live with a skin disease and navigate the daunting question we all face every morning: What in the world am I going to wear to work today?

Don’t get us wrong, we love the fact that employers have become more relaxed about the topic of ‘appropriate work attire.’ But what if you suffer from a skin condition such as psoriasis or urticaria? The question of what to wear in the morning might be even more daunting. It’s not just the question of which fabulous dress to wear, but it’s also the questions you might get if people see the flakey patches on your legs, or the hives on your arms. And those questions are even more daunting than any other.

To play it safe, you reach for your regular black pants and just another long-sleeved blouse – again. But what if it’s hot and sunny outside? What if you couldn’t resist and did buy that overpriced dress that shows off your bare legs? You know you want to wear it, because you know you look fabulous in it. So you should, even if you suffer from a skin condition. Because everyone deserves to look and feel fabulous at work, here are a few do’s and don’ts for showing skin in the workplace:

Do keep a sweater or cardigan at your desk

Don’t get us wrong, if you’re comfortable owning your skin disease and showing it at work you certainly should. But for those moments of insecurity, or those important meetings with new people you don’t want to have to answer to, you can easily throw a cardigan on over anything you’re wearing. And you’ll notice a lot of people doing that – office air conditioning can be freezing!

Don’t hide your skin if you don’t have to

There’s power in being who you are. So why not take the risk and own those flakes and hives? If people look, let them look. Your skin disease is not your fault, so there is no need to act like it is. Sometimes people have to be confronted with things to break down the stigma – so maybe today is your day to shatter some misconceptions.

Do have a change of shoes ready in case of angioedema

Even your co-worker who is known for always wearing heels will need to take a breather and wear some comfy shoes some days. So if you get an unexpected episode of angioedema, slip on your comfy shoes. Everyone knows that feeling…

Don’t be embarrassed

Easier said than done. Your skin disease might be prominently visible, which makes not being embarrassed even harder. But it is not contagious or dangerous; it just means your skin cells work harder than everyone else’s, at least some of the time. For example, with Psoriasis, your skin cells grow and develop faster and rise to the top (surface of your skin) much quicker.1 So if people ask, find some courage and be smart and witty with your answer. Your cells are doing what you do in the workplace every day: work harder and faster than everyone else!

Do prepare an elevator-pitch answer

We’ve all done it. But instead of telling someone who you are, what you do, or where you’re from in 20 seconds, you might have to tell them you have a skin condition and not contagious. Doing that in a confident and self-assured way will make you feel (and look!) even better in that skirt.

It might take some time before you can answer the daily fashion question with “Today, I will wear a short-sleeved shirt,” or “Today, I’m finally going to put on those strappy sandals.” But that is fine. Even considering it will build up your confidence. And if someone looks at you funny or asks an overstepping question, you just smile, put your hand on your hip and get ready to practice your elevator-pitch. And you will get better with every practice run until you become the master of your skin and your wardrobe, not the other way around!

  1. Website “Mayo Clinic” – Causes. Last accessed: 01.20.16 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/causes/con-20030838

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