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How I Manage My Career and My Psoriasis: One Woman’s Story
Sabrina Skiles has a high-pressure career in public relations, yet she refuses to let psoriasis get in her way. Discover her at-work coping strategies to manage psoriasis and stress.
Letting psoriasis hold her back isn’t part of the career plan for Sabrina Skiles. The 29-year-old Houston resident, who’s a marketing and special events coordinator, says finding the right doctor and choosing a flattering, professional wardrobe are among the strategies she uses to stay competitive and in control.
Skiles learned she had psoriasis in 2001, when she was a junior in high school. She and her mother were diagnosed at the same time, which meant they were able to work together to find the best treatment available.
“I’d say the most important thing is to find a doctor who you can build a good rapport with,” says Skiles, who describes her psoriasis as mild to moderate. Skiles had to switch doctors several times, so when she sees a new doctor, she makes a point of describing how much stress she has from work or other sources. She considers stress to be her greatest challenge to controlling psoriasis , as she experience flares on her elbows and scalp when her stress levels spike.
She also talks with her doctor about other factors, such as her overall quality of life and if there have been any recent life events, such as a job change, that could affect her psoriasis treatment .
Although factors like staying on top of trends and planning events can be stressful, Skiles says she loves her career and has never feared that having psoriasis would keep her from doing her job.
Managing Psoriasis on the Job
Skiles and Alice Gottlieb, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in chief and a professor of dermatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, suggest a variety of strategies for staying competitive in your career if you have psoriasis. Consider these tips:
Insist on the best treatment. “Get to the right doctor who can clear your psoriasis,” Dr. Gottlieb says. With the variety and effectiveness of psoriasis treatments today, most people can expect to get clearer skin.
Get treatment that matches your work schedule. Skiles says the most effective treatment for her scalp has been light therapy (phototherapy), but that’s not always easy to stick with on an event planner’s schedule. However, because treatment adherence is crucial, it’s important to work with your doctor to create a psoriasis treatment plan that aligns with your work commitments. It’s also a good idea to schedule any long treatment appointments, such as phototherapy, for the beginning or end of the workday.
Manage stress. For some people, stress is a trigger for psoriasis flares — but experiencing some stress is inevitable. So if you find that the stress of your career is making psoriasis control difficult, try stress-management techniques. Skiles says that keeping a daily to-do list helps her manage her daily stress, and preparing in advance for deadlines or projects eases longer-term stress.
Get full-body checks. Psoriasis significantly raises your risk for heart disease, even for young adults. Make sure your doctor regularly checks your heart health and looks for any additional risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Build a stylish wardrobe. If you’re not a born stylist, find a friend with a keen sense of fashion to help you create a professional wardrobe that looks great, covers psoriasis plaques, and reflects your confidence and professionalism. “I stay with light colors,” Skiles says. “That has defined my wardrobe.” Clothes with light colors and patterns tend to be best for camouflaging psoriasis plaques.
Live a healthy lifestyle. Drinking alcohol and smoking can limit your psoriasis treatment choices and increase health risks as well. Even if cigarettes and alcohol are popular among your work colleagues, avoid them. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, get good sleep, and follow the general health and lifestyle recommendations of your doctor.
Get comfortable talking about psoriasis. Skiles admits that for many years she didn’t like talking about psoriasis, even with her husband. But as she became more involved with psoriasis advocacy through the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), she became more comfortable with the conversation. Now if someone comments about her psoriasis, Skiles says she views the exchange as a chance to educate. Having practice conversations with trusted friends or co-workers can be helpful. In particular, you might want to practice reassuring people that your skin condition isn’t contagious and is actually caused by autoimmune factors, which are internal, not external.
Seek support. Gottlieb recommends connecting with groups such as the NPF to learn more about psoriasis, find experienced doctors, and meet others living with psoriasis.
Psoriasis shouldn’t keep you from having a successful and rewarding career. Try to stay positive with psoriasis, manage the condition, and go for your career goals.
Last Updated: 4/29/2014
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