Clothing & Makeup Choices

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: July 2016.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes symptoms to develop on skin due to over-activity of the immune system. The immune system triggers inflammation which causes an excess number of skin cells to build up on the surface layer of the skin in the form of plaques, which can be raised, inflamed, scaly, and itchy. Because the symptoms of psoriasis can be visible to others, they can sometimes cause the person to feel self-conscious in social situations. To help deal with this, some people find it helpful to choose certain types of clothing and to use cosmetic cover-up products as needed.

How can clothing choice be affected by psoriasis?

Clothing choices can be important for people with psoriasis, especially during flare-ups when symptoms may be particularly uncomfortable. Psoriasis plaques can be irritated by certain types of clothing such as elastic waistbands, socks, and underwear. One survey found that 40% of people with psoriasis reported that the daily task most affected by the condition is choosing comfortable clothing. During periods of symptom flare-ups or during treatment with certain types of topical medicines, some people find that it’s better to wear looser clothing in areas affected by symptoms1. Use of cotton and other breathable fabrics and laundering with fragrance-free detergent may be important choices as well. The use of a well-placed scarf or jewelry can also be a good way to draw attention away from your skin and enhance your outfit.

When a person is feeling self-conscious about their psoriasis symptoms, it may make them feel more confident in social situations if they wear clothing that covers up areas of affected skin, although wearing long sleeves and pants when it is hot has its own disadvantages2. On the other hand, many people find that their symptoms improve when exposed to natural sunlight for short periods of time on a regular basis. During the summer, wearing fewer layers and exposing more affected skin wearing short sleeve shirts, shorts, and so on can improve the benefits of sunlight3. However, getting too much sun exposure can make psoriasis symptoms worse, so talk with your healthcare provider about how much exposure you should get.

What are some tips for using cosmetic cover-ups and make-up?

If your psoriasis symptoms are making you feel uncomfortable or unconfident in social situations, cosmetic cover-up products like makeup and concealer may help. They can help you to make symptoms less visible by reducing redness, evening out skin tone, or masking smaller plaque.

There are many different types of cosmetic cover-up products available that are designed to be less irritating for sensitive skin. While it may be tempting to use a heavy layer of makeup, tried to use the smallest number of lightweight products in the minimal amount needed to get the desired effect4. The more products you use, the more likely that your skin will become irritated. Talk with your healthcare provider or dermatologist about the specific types of products that are recommended for people with psoriasis.

Give these psoriasis cover-up tricks a try!

The National Psoriasis Foundation’s website offers some detailed tips for how to safely and effectively use cover-up and make-up products5. Some of these include:

  • Before applying makeup, wash the skin where it will be applied with a gentle cleanser and then apply a fragrance-free moisturizer designed for sensitive skin or people with skin conditions like psoriasis.
  • Applying a primer first can be a good base for smoothing the appearance of skin.
  • Yellow- or green-based color corrector can be applied next to help mask areas of skin that look very red
  • A liquid or cream-based foundation, applied in light layers, works well with skin that is mildly red.
  • When removing makeup, it is easiest to use a petrolatum-based remover.
  • Make sure that the products you use contain strong enough sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Avoid any products that contain things like glitter, shimmer, or frost, which can irritate affected skin.

There are many cover-up products that can be used in psoriasis symptoms on parts of the body other than the face. If you’re using cover-up on joints like the knees or elbows, bend the joints before you apply the product so it doesn’t crack when you move.

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