Psoriasis Woes: The Misery of Clothing Choices
I am one of a million people living with psoriasis. For over 50 years, this chronic condition has taken a physical and emotional toll across the many different seasons of my life.
One thing remains consistent: finding comfortable and fashionable clothing that allows me to feel good and won't interfere with my symptoms.
What to wear?
I mean, sometimes, simply getting dressed can be a chore. The painful skin, fatigue, and swollen joints can weigh down the best of us. Making an effort to pick something out can be exhausting and deemed unworthy.
When we muster up the energy to pick out an outfit, there is so much to consider. Depending on what you wear, clothing can either help or hurt. There are fabric considerations and styles that have a direct impact on the itchy, irritated, cracked, dry skin.
Some of my earliest memories were spent scratching
I grew up in a household where everybody had to go to Sunday school and church on Sunday. I had to wear nylon stockings which were very irritating and would stick to my skin. I would politely excuse myself and walk out of the service, making my way to a private room to scratch like crazy. I was hoping that no one noticed that I had left.
The frustration and discomfort would rise because I knew I could not help that my skin was on fire. I couldn't wait until the service was over to take these stockings off. I had to be about 9 years old and thinking, who invented these things?
I had to put on tar-like medication back in the day that smelled pretty bad. Sometimes the smell and the drug would seep through my pant hose. My sisters tried to be sympathetic to how I was feeling, but no one knew my daily personal nightmare. I was miserable in my skin.
One of my earliest memories was having to sit on cold wooden benches and the elder mothers yelling, "Sit still, child, and stop scratching." The services were long. I was frustrated and in pain.
Another layer of invisible pain
For most of my life, my chronic psoriasis remained angry and painful. No one seemed to know the torture of how I felt. I had to cover up my skin when it was cracked and bleeding - fabric would stick to my skin. It was another layer of invisible pain.
When I entered the working world, women needed to wear stockings. I didn't mind it because I wanted to cover up. I even wore several pairs of hose at once. I didn't want my skin exposed and manage uncomfortable questions and conversations. I can't begin to tell you the agony of that period in my life.
I remember a co-worker saying, "I love your pantyhose with the sparkles." I just laughed. The "sparkles" were the flakes from my psoriasis.
I can recall when my body was 70% covered and just moving to do anything was unbearable. You want to take off everything and go to bed by the end of the day. When the intense pain set in, I would always think, at least I don't have to wear those uncomfortable stockings.
Today, I am happy in my skin
I don’t feel the shame and embarrassment to cover my body up. I have learned what to wear, so I don't irritate my psoriasis and have a better mental outlook.
I made up my mind years ago not to stop feeling sorry for myself. I have started a support group. I attended Town Hall meetings and began booking speaking engagements.
I know that one day we will find a cure for this disease or at least help to find a cure. I have educated myself enough to be able to speak to people in the medical field and other organizations about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Over the years, I have been an active advocate for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, speaking up and out about this disease. The one thing that I have learned is that we are not alone in this journey.
Do you like to go pswimming with psoriasis?