I like to describe psoriasis as a ‘bespoke’ disease. It just makes it sound a touch more interesting and glamorous than the reality, don’t you think?! But actually, it’s not that far from the truth as everyone’s skin reacts differently to treatments and lotions. For many people, it’s a case of trial and error when trying to find a remedy that works. The same can also apply to fabrics, although in general there are certain materials that should be avoided by everyone.Knitwear is probably the trickiest area of clothing to get right.
As useful as online shopping is (particularly for those who would rather avoid the potential embarrassment of communal changing rooms), knitwear is one item that I always recommend is only bought if you have seen it in reality. A sweater can look great, can even feel perfectly suitable when you rub it between your fingers… but the true test is when you try it on. Let’s face it, your skin won’t be long in letting you know if the yarn is an irritant! Itch central! The only knitwear that can really be guaranteed to be gentle on your skin is cotton, such as this Slub Crew Sweater from Gap. Sadly, even cashmere has been known to aggravate psoriasis.
I am always amazed when I hear silk being hailed as a fabric that is ideal for a psoriasis sufferer to wear. Nobody can argue with the fact that it is soft and gentle on skin, however, has anyone ever tried wearing a silk shirt on top of skin that has been treated with oily emollients and greasy ointments? Frankly, it’s a disaster. Invariably the shirt will stick to your skin and then you have the headache of trying to remove the oily stains that appear on the silk. You may as well wear a flashing neon headband pronouncing your disease. Nope! Avoid silk like the plague is my advice, unless you are in the lucky position of having a household staff to deal with your laundry worries! Instead opt for an alternative such as this great Boho Embroidered Blouse from Marks & Spencer, which nods to the current ‘70s trend, will keep you cool and won’t show tell-tale signs of your treatments.
With summer in full swing, the constant plight of the psoriasis patient is how to look summery and stay cool without exposing their skin to the stares of others, and this is where chiffon can become your friend. However, a word of warning! Plain coloured chiffon will not conceal the plaques on your body; you will still be able to see them through the fabric. Instead, opt for patterned chiffon and, as florals are so in vogue this season, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that suits. This Patterned Blouse from H&M is a perfect case in point. It’s wonderfully light and would look great paired with some white jeans. It has full coverage for arms and although it is basically black, the pattern will ensure camouflage should scalp psoriasis be a problem.
In discussions of fabrics to be avoided, I always include lace. In fact, I’m going to throw crochet in there as well! Lace is self-explanatory I think: unless you are spending vast sums on a top quality garment, lace tends to be scratchy and irritating to inflamed skin. However, for me, the real problem lies with the exposure of skin. For some reason, a lace sleeve accentuates the redness of plaques on arms and rather than concealing or camouflaging the skin, it draws attention to the one area that you are trying to conceal. Similarly crochet, although generally softer than lace, has the effect of highlighting the red patches. Definitely to be avoided!
Finally, as much as I love the tactile nature of velvet and suede, sadly these are two fabrics that do not work well with flaky skin. In fact, I’m convinced that they actually attract flakes and it is incredibly difficult to remove them discreetly. An unobtrusive sweep of your shoulders (a motion well known to us all!) will not remove rogue flakes if they are nestled into suede or velvet. Even suede boots are not without their limitations, as flakes have been known to make their way down a trouser leg to rest on a suede foot. I speak from experience and it wasn’t a pretty sight! So sadly, suede and velvet need to be consigned to the charity bag or to the depths of your wardrobe until your skin is clear. Be optimistic! It will happen!