Flaky yet fabulous

| Helen Hanrahan

We’ve all heard the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Yet for those of us with psoriasis, the added burden of such a visible disease is the fact that our flaking skin can often be the first thing that people see. 

The meteoric rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, have made this an age where image is paramount.  The perfect hairstyle, the proper shape trouser and, of course, the current obsession; the eyebrows! 

And whilst we may pretend that we don’t care—that we scoff at such trivial concerns—it still holds true that if we know we look good, we immediately feel better.  

We all know that psoriasis is much more than “just a skin disease.” Self-esteem gets knocked, and psoriasis can drive us to anguish and despair. But sometimes it is the little things that help.  

So in the interests of looking good and ergo, feeling good, I’d like to share some tips for being fabulous despite being flaky.

Quite honestly, I blame Coco Chanel for my love of black clothing. In my head, it’s always chic and elegant, never funereal or drab. However, if scalp psoriasis is a problem, black (and indeed all the darker shades) might need to be set aside. 

Time to embrace the paler hues of grey, cream, white and taupe, which will help conceal any rogue flaking. Looking on the bright side, paler colours tend to reflect light onto your face, which gives a more youthful glow. Can’t argue with that! 

Chiffon can be a wonderful fabric to wear, especially during the summer season. Light and frothy, it will keep you cool in the warmer months. And once the fabric has a pattern, the chiffon could help conceal the plaques on your skin. 

Silk can also work well, but if you are using emollients or ointments, it will stain easily.  Frankly life is difficult enough without having to struggle with stain removal from delicate garments.

On the other hand, a silk and cotton mix knit is often the perfect blend to wear, as so much knitwear can cause serious irritation. I start to feel itchy within 50 paces of lamb’s wool or angora, but that might just be me.

Here's a video of Hanrahan promoting the Psoriasis Shout Out program in her native country, Ireland. Click here for more information.

I’m a big fan of distraction. Using accessories is a clever (and often cheap) way to guide the eye away from your skin. A fabulous cocktail ring or necklace, an animal print pashmina, a pretty manicure, a smart fedora or a glitzy clutch bag are but a few suggestions for how you can trick the eye and show off the areas of your body that you’re happy with.  

For the party season, don a sequin jacket. During the summer, show off your pedi in some peep-toe boots.  Dare to be different at a formal event by showing up in white tuxedo and black cigarette pants.  And embrace the current trend of jumpsuits—the perfect way to be stylishly covered for all those special events. 

It’s not about being embarrassed by your skin. It’s about not giving it a central role in your life.
By employing some clever dressing tricks, nobody will guess you have a skin disease, and guess what? For a short while, you might just forget about it too. Now isn’t that worth getting dressed up for?

Helen Hanrahan lives in Dublin, Ireland, and has had psoriasis for over 20 years. Strongly believing that what you wear can affect how you feel, she started her blog, The Flaky Fashionista, in 2012 to show fellow sufferers that it is still possible to be fabulous on even your flakiest days. 

The opinions expressed by National Psoriasis Foundation Blog contributors are their own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice.

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