Beating Psoriasis with Style
- Fashion icon Stacy London, 53, was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 4. The chronic skin disease first presented itself as small bumps behind her ears, which evolved into white flakes on the scalp by age 11.
- London, who is also widely known as co-host of TLC’s What Not To Wear, which aired on the network from 2003-2013, has expressed her intense bullying from other students who mistakenly assumed that the condition was contagious. Sadly, she developed panic attacks early on from the severity of trauma the kids caused.
- London has given tips, such as using dye-free detergent and wearing natural, breathable to prevent skin irritation. If your psoriasis is more moderate to severe, there are a variety of topical ointments and stronger medications that your doctor can treat you with.
“It wasn’t life-threatening, but it was life-debilitating,” the Truth About Style author told Healthline in a 2017 interview. “Living with it for 40 years has been a really interesting journey.”Read More
“Even that was a tricky diagnosis. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of fear,” she said. “At that point, I felt really ashamed at the way I looked. I had a lot of bad experiences with children at school who didn’t know anything about the disease. It definitely reminded me that I was different and that something was wrong with me.”
Thankfully, London had better luck with her peers in her teen years and though she stilled covered up in her “uniform” of turtlenecks, what she didn’t know is she was creating a personal style that would some day prove beneficial to others struggling to find an identity outside of psoriasis.
“Covering up did give me some feeling of control, but it wasn’t a comfort or a joy,” she wrote in her book. “I missed my fancy dresses.”
View this post on Instagram
The fashionista had said that she is back in those dresses (well, until our pandemic pause!) and wants others who are suffering from the embarrassment of these types of diseases to gain some courage through style as well. Not only can you perk your confidence up with fashion, but there are a number of ways you can help treat your psoriasis as well.
“One of the things I feel the most strongly about is that you can’t be empowered if you don’t know what’s available. Learned helplessness is something that comes from not having the latest information on how to care for your psoriasis or feeling bad for yourself,” she said.
Stacy’s Style Tips for Psoriasis Sufferers
London has given some simple psoriasis tips over the course of her career, which thankfully always incorporates her advocacy for this autoimmune disease.
These every day tips include:
- Choosing natural, breathable fabrics.
- Wearing a second layer under a wool sweater so that the rough fabric doesn’t irritate your skin.
- Wearing a straw hat to protect you from the sun while allowing your scalp to breathe.
- Choosing fabrics that wick away moisture for working out.
- Wearing shoes that fit perfectly to avoid skin problems on your feet.
- Using dye-free, unscented laundry detergent.
“It’s about taking vanity out of fashion and turning it into a weapon in your arsenal and making it about being who you want to be,” she has said. “This is not just about style, but using style to counteract how you’re feeling because of a disease or condition, or something as benign as gaining a few pounds.”
Like some types of viruses, this chronic autoimmune condition is often asymptomatic, or symptomless, so people who have psoriasis will not be dealing with constant outbreaks.
“Some patients report itching [or a] burning sensation, but that doesn’t tend to be the norm. It certainly can happen,” Dr. Khattri explained to SurvivorNet. “Then if you have psoriasis in the genital area, it can feel uncomfortable just because it’s in a very sensitive part of the body. But for the most part, it tends to be asymptomatic.”
Dr. Khattri recommends seeing a dermatologist if you notice red, scaly spots on the body so a doctor can make a proper diagnosis.
Psoriasis patches can vary in how they appear on the skin. The disease may present as just a few spots with dandruff-like scaling or as rashes that cover large parts of the body. The most commonly affected areas are the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles of feet, scalp, face, and palms.
Topical treatments are considered a mainstay for psoriasis.
Dr. George Han, a dermatologist at Northwell Health/Lenox Hill Hospital, says that topical treatments are often a convenient option for patients.
“The majority of patients with psoriasis overall are managed with topicals only,” Dr. Han explained to SurvivorNet. “And I would say part of this is from convenience, and you could argue certainly patients with more milder forms of psoriasis, it’s justifiable to just treat topically.”