During the warmer months of summer, it’s pretty par for the course to hear people complain about not being “beach ready” or that they haven’t worked out enough to show off their arms in that hot new tank top they just purchased. Look, we get it. Baring skin and feeling confident is tough for anyone — but when you’re living with a skin condition, it can be excruciating.
I myself have psoriatic arthritis. I’ve had minor symptoms for about 13 years, but things didn’t really start flaring up until about two years ago. I’m not sure what happened, but around that time all hell broke loose. My elbows became a mess, I got spots on my legs and my scalp became scaly AF. Considering some of my favorite things about summer are sundresses and topknots, obviously these symptoms throw a real wrench in my day-to-day summer life — and completely destroy my confidence at times.
Unfortunately, most of us with skin conditions kinda suffer alone. I slogged my way through figuring out how to deal with my psoriasis on my own for a couple of years and didn’t meet anyone else dealing with it until recently. We swapped tips about how to keep our skin in check and it felt so good. It also made me realize that there are other people out there just like me dealing with skin issues and doing the best they can to feel good about baring some skin.
So I reached out on the good ol’ internet and got some tips for feeling confident and keeping flare-ups at bay from real people with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and pigmentation issues. Here’s what they had to say.
This first tip is from me! Yes, I have bumpy elbows and some spots on my legs — but my scalp bears the brunt of my affliction. Man, oh man, I didn’t realize how many things I took for granted when my scalp was clear. Back in the day, one of my favorite ways to treat myself was to get my hair done. Now I avoid the salon like the plague.
But the hardest part about summer and early fall for me is not being able to throw my hair up into a cute ponytail without a care in the world anymore. That’s right, y’all, when my psoriasis is a-flarin’, it creeps right out of my hairline and settles in into a lovely little crust behind my ears. I can easily keep it out of sight by wearing my hair down, but I live in central Texas, and a girl’s got to be able to wear her hair back when it’s humid as heck and hotter than Hades outside.
So what do I do? I cheat my hair. I tease the crap out of the roots, use a little dry shampoo and hair spray to give all-over body, and from there, I either put my hair up in a pony or a low bun. Since my hair has the added volume, I’m able to manipulate it to cover my hairline and behind my ears. Here’s a good example:
I also often wear a Betty Draper-esque cloth headband to cover my hairline when my hair is up. This lets me show off the back of my neck, while still covering the parts of my head I want to keep hidden.
2. Go natural
“My skin around my upper back and shoulders has discolored pale spots, especially after being in the sun. My doctor diagnosed this as tinea versicolor, a benign fungal rash that temporarily alters skin pigmentation. Lately, I have been exploring and leaning towards more natural remedies. I have created a blend of essential oils featuring lemon and lavender. While both are antiseptic, lavender is antifungal and lemon is antibacterial — plus it assists with brightening a dull complexion. However, lemon increases the chances of sunburn, so I make sure to not use it if I know I’m going to be in the sun. And I always apply extra sunscreen!” — Katie D., SheKnows contributor
3. Oil up & stay stress free
“Coconut oil really helps soothe any angry patches of psoriasis on my skin: my elbows, my knees, my ears. I slather it on, put on old clothes, and let it work its magic! I add a few drops of almond oil to my baths, which also helps — although I can’t have my bath water too hot! I’ve learned over many years of trial and error that hot water is not my friend. The biggest factor for me in managing my psoriasis is staying stress-free, so I make sure I take time out for myself whenever I can — for me this means running and yoga.” — Claire G., SheKnows Parenting editor
4. Ceramides for skin hydration
“I’ve suffered from eczema since I was a little girl all the way into my 20s. I thought I was the only one dealing with this because I was ashamed and tried to hide my symptoms for years, but actually over 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with eczema… I make sure to consume fats like butter, cottage cheese, eggs and yogurt. These foods are sources of ceramides. Ceramides play an important role in keeping the skin hydrated and can be effective at reducing the feelings of dryness associated with eczema. Other foods sources for ceramides are whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, turkey and cow’s milk. I also take ceramides in a capsule supplement (containing 15 milligrams of ceramides).” — Naomi W.
Sometimes all you need to feel confident in spite of your skin issues is a really great statement piece, be it a necklace or purse.
“Being a fashion blogger, I am always on the hunt for a beautiful necklace or bag. It helps me feel chic on a day-to-day basis. I feel great — who doesn’t need that? Plus, it’s a great conversation starter.” — Sabrina S., Homegrown Houston
6. Accentuate the positive
“Although my skin may be breaking out or flaring, I still want to feel beautiful. Instead of just focusing on my skin, I choose to focus on a physical feature that isn’t affected by psoriasis. I love to play with my makeup, and I’ll often choose a fun lipstick, like a red that really pops! Other times I’ll highlight my eyes with a bold eyeliner and mascara. Whether or not your skin is flaring, you’re beautiful and you deserve to feel that way. Draw attention to something you’re happy about.” — Melissa L.
7. Be an advocate
“I have had psoriasis for just over 18 years. You can imagine being diagnosed in high school the looks and people constantly thinking you are contagious. Fast-forward to current day, I attended a volunteer conference put on by the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2015 and realized I wasn’t alone and it lit a fire in my heart and gave me a the confidence to step outside my comfort zone and dedicate more time to help advocate… I’m not going to deny that there are days that I want to hide — and then I remember that I can be a voice to advocate for that person who is newly diagnosed or that teenage girl who is scared of what lies ahead.” — Jennifer P.
“I too have psoriasis. One of the things that I do, it makes me feel like I’m more in control, is educate people who stare. I usually give them three chances… [laughs]. If I catch their eye three times as they’re staring at my legs or elbows, I go introduce myself and casually mention that I have psoriasis and see where the conversation takes us. Usually, people are pretty embarrassed to be caught, but it helps me feel more comfortable.” — Jess D.
9. Cover it up
“I’ve dealt with plaque psoriasis for about 14 years. I didn’t become officially diagnosed until 2012. I spent years hiding under long sleeves or bangs to cover the patches on my forehead. I discovered Dermablend creme foundation on an online forum and was able to cover all of the patches on my trunk and legs before my dates. Nobody ever noticed that I had a problem, and I even met my fiancé during this rough period of breakouts. When I told him that I had psoriasis, he had not even noticed.” — Samantha S.
Do you have any other tips for staying confident while battling a skin condition?
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