February 15, 2023
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Photography by Atolas/Stocksy United
Welcome to Ask Joni, an advice column by Joni Kazantzis, the community guide for Bezzy Psoriasis. Joni has lived with psoriasis for over 25 years and is passionate about sharing what she has learned with others. In her column, Joni answers questions sourced directly from community members. To have your questions answered, join one of Joni’s nightly live discussions.
Living with psoriasis can affect many of the daily decisions we have to make, starting with getting dressed in the morning. After a psoriasis diagnosis, it can feel like you have to give up wearing what you love, but you don’t! You just have to be intentional about choosing garments that will maximize comfort when you are having a flare.
As winter brings on cooler weather, it’s time to start thinking about how to stay warm and stylish while trying not to irritate psoriasis plaques or trigger a new flare.
Not all fabrics are created equally, especially when it comes to psoriasis. Soft and natural are in, and anything synthetic is so last season.
Heavier fabrics, like wool or polyester, may seem like a warmer option, but those fabrics can be itchy when you’re having a flare. Wool can actually snag on plaques, further irritating your skin. The closest layer to your skin should be soft and breathable, like cotton or linen. If you want to wear a heavier fabric, consider wearing a soft underlayer to protect your skin.
You can find clothing items made from 100% cotton. It is a bit of an investment to convert your entire wardrobe to be psoriasis-friendly, so start with the pieces that directly affect your flare and build out from there.
When selecting what to wear during a flare, opt for loose and flowy cuts. Tight clothing can irritate the skin, cause chafing, and catch on your psoriasis patches.
Clothing can be fitted without being tight, but anything touching your skin should be soft and natural. “Loose and flowy” doesn’t necessarily mean “oversized and baggy.” There are beautiful flowing styles for shirts, blouses, pants, and dresses that will keep you looking great and your skin feeling happy.
When clothes are touching your body, be aware of your topical medications and lotions. Topical creams can transfer and potentially stain what you’re wearing. If you’re applying medications in the morning before you get dressed, either wait until they fully dry on your skin or wear a base layer that you are comfortable getting medication on.
Headbands, hats, and scarves are my favorite accessories to cover up a flare. They draw the eyes and cover spots that are typically showing. The same advice goes when choosing fabrics for hats, scarves, gloves, and all accessories — always opt for soft and natural.
Be aware that those accessories can help cover a flare, but if they lay against plaques or rub too tightly, they can make your skin feel worse. Even jewelry laying directly on your skin can rub plaques or bother skin. When you get home, take off your accessories and give your body some breathing room.
Winter fashion often leans into darker colors, but sticking with lighter colors can help if you are trying to mask flakes on your clothing. Neutrals are always in style and can create a put-together, modern look. Gray suits and blazers can still look slick and professional for those who require business attire. If you’re keeping the jacket on, then you can start to incorporate darker colors underneath. Crisp, white shirts are another staple in my work wardrobe, along with wide-leg pants.
When it comes to exercise clothing, disregard everything that I said prior. When it comes to exercising during a flare, cotton is not necessarily the best choice. The reason for that is because cotton absorbs moisture, so by the end of your workout, you’ll be wet and sticky with clothes sticking to your plaques.
Choose a base layer that is moisture-wicking, which means that the sweat is drawn away from your skin. But as soon as you’re done with your workout, get those clothes off, rinse off in a cool shower, then apply a heavy moisturizer to hydrate your skin.
Psoriasis can make getting dressed more challenging, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your personal style. It may take some experimenting, but with time, you’ll find what works best for you to remain comfortable and confident in your skin.
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