Halloween and Psoriasis
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Sure, tinsel and holly are nice, and Easter eggs are delicious, but nothing beats dressing up in scary costumes and extorting your neighbors for candy and sweets. And where I grew up, Halloween was a big deal. Neighbors decked out their houses, local farms built corn mazes, and pop-up haunted houses were the norm. I have many fond memories of costume parades at my school and carving pumpkins with my family. I also have many memories of agonizing over trying to pick/design a psoriasis-friendly costume. And so, here I present my brief guide to surviving Halloween with psoriasis!
The creepy crawly skin dilemma
Unless you’re planning on dressing up as a self-generating snow globe (shout out to my fellow flakers!), you’re going to need to put something on your body this Halloween. My first piece of advice is to skip the cheap costumes made out of highly irritating and abrasive fabrics. Most costume stores sell a plethora of these cheaply made garments that use synthetic fabrics like nylon and acrylic…. because everyone wants to spend all night in a polyester bodysuit, right? Murder me. Instead, opt for natural fabrics like cotton that won’t irritate your skin; they’ll also give you breathability, which can help combat flare-ups caused by heat and chafing. The easiest way to do this is by making your own costume, as that gives you the greatest control over which fabrics you choose (and is my favorite option, if for nothing other than the fact that you won’t have any embarrassing “who wore it better” moments). However, you can also combat itchy fabrics by wearing undergarments made of non-irritating fabric that create a barrier between you and that wool sweater that seemed like such a good idea in the thrift store. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the off-the-rack “sexy” costumes that use hardly any fabric at all. Problem solved!
The coverage dilemma
Not quite confident with flaunting the plaques on your arms and legs yet? That’s okay, Sexy Ladybug was so last year, anyway. Aside from the obvious long-sleeve/long-pants choices (mummy, witch, pirate, etc.), go ahead and get creative with your costumes! I love wearing my everyday clothes with a few choice items that turn me into something ironic. Put on your best work suit and tie, wear a placard around your neck that reads “sorry” and suddenly you’re a “Formal Apology.” I once went to a party in regular garb, but walked around with a great big piece of graph paper that had rubber snakes stuck to it… I was “Snakes On A Plane.” Safety pin some grey paint chip samples to your favourite sweater and be “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I mean, really, the possibilities are endless. And, if all else fails, throw a white sheet over your head and be a ghost… hey, it hides the flakes! (I floated this idea to my Aunt, and she in turn suggested I could just wear brown pants and a brown shirt and go as “A Stick In The Mud”).
The makeup and psoriasis dilemma
Okay, so regular costumes and ironic play-on-words are not your thing, you want to go as Pennywise the clown from “It”… or a White Walker from “Game Of Thrones”… or a terrifying zombie with peeling skin? Then you my friend need makeup (well, maybe not for the peeling skin part, am I right?). Most people shy away from using lots of make-up on their psoriasis, but there are ways you can do it successfully. The first step is your makeup choices. Try, if you can, to find makeups that contain non-comedogenic ingredients (these are ingredients that are specially formulated to let your skin breathe). Ingredients like lanolin, myristate, and petroleum-based ingredients can clog your pores and cause further irritation to your skin, so check online for a list of cakey, comedogenic ingredients before you go shopping. Usually though, Halloween make-up is filled with these ingredients (I’ve never seen a particularly “breathable” looking clown face, tbh). In that case, just make sure you test out the makeup ahead of time to gauge your potential skin irritation. And, as always, try to avoid using makeup on open sores.
The candy and psoriasis dilemma
Last, but not least, there’s the “treat” part. Tiny chocolate bars, Smarties, chips, Twizzlers… HEAVEN! Except the next day, when your skin has a total freak out. Most of us know that junk food can be a trigger for psoriasis flares, (and that we psoriasis sufferers may actually be at increased risk for periodontal disease to boot!), but Halloween is a particularly difficult time of the year to avoid sugar-laden food. In my mind, you have three options:
Option 1) allow yourself a few treats on Halloween night, but stick mostly to healthy foods (Hey, everyone has that one neighbor that only ever gives out apples. Find them, you know they have extras).
Option 2) portion out your candy and make it last, allow yourself to indulge only every once in a while and stretch your haul all the way through to next year!
Lastly, Option 3) give Option 1) and Option 2) a moment’s consideration, but instead end up bingeing on all your candy at once and then spend the next two weeks hitting that kale juice hard. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to which Option I elect for.
Diet starts… tomorrow!