Dealing with Flakes at Work
My psoriasis diagnosis came when I was in high school. At the time, my biggest problems were what other people would think. You know, social status was so important then.
Scratching in an office setting...
As you move throughout the different seasons of your life, while continuing to manage psoriasis, problems and challenges will continue to change. Becoming a young professional and now working in an office environment was no different.
These days, I can say that I have overcome this insecurity. I would like to share some tips on working in an office environment with psoriasis.
Start informing people at your comfort level
From the working professional perspective, I spend more time in the office than at home. I was worried about how everyone would react to my skin, my plaques, my flakes.
To make things easier, I consider myself very open about my condition. I think this approach puts people at ease and avoids ignorant questions.
Clothing can make a difference
Even with this open approach, my main goal was to put people at ease and not pull the attention to my skin. This included dressing appropriately. Not just choosing professional clothing, but clothing that wouldn't make my psoriasis more visible than it needed to.
First and foremost, I never wore black to the office. It made flakes more visible, especially when my scalp was badly flaking. To avoid looking like I was hit by a snowstorm, I decided to go for white, grey or cream clothing, dresses in particular, as they were easy to match accessories with.
Accessories play another important part when it comes to workwear and psoriasis, like big scarves or necklaces, as they can easily shift the focus from your skin. When my skin was particularly worse, I would opt for dark tights with patterns so that my spots and plaques were not visible on my legs.
Low-key workplace accommodations
While fashion issues might have been solved, there was still another problem. My physical workplace location, where I spent the majority of my time, the desk.
One thing I would like everyone to know is that adjusting your work environment to help you manage your condition does not have to be impossible and expensive. It's ok if you prefer to have a white desk, higher chair, or anything that can help you feel more comfortable.
Using the keyboard with some additional support around the wrists and a trackpad instead of the mouse was a good change for me. It did not put as much strain on my joints and therefore some of my symptoms became easier to manage.
Your health will always come first
Last, but not least I know that a lot of people with chronic illness worry about how their frequent visits to the doctor will influence their performance.
What I try to do is bookend my appointments and ensure they didn't collide too much with my work. Always try to book them well in advance - aim for the beginning of the day or the end of the day. However, if for some reason it's not possible, see if you could manage to work from home the day you have an appointment.
All in all, it's more possible than you think to work in an office environment while managing psoriasis symptoms. It is important that you know how to communicate your condition and do not worry about speaking up if you need help.
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