Dare to Wear Black

The deodorant I use, Lady Speed Stick, has a little sticker affixed to its cap: “Dare to Wear Black!” it calls out to me, indicating that I can manage to use this white deodorant even when I wear black tops.

But I don’t think of armpits and deodorant stains when I see that little sticker. Instead, I think of my psoriasis. Like many of you, my scalp has been a consistent site for psoriasis since I was diagnosed with the illness in second or third grade. The flakes from my scalp psoriasis were a source of deep mortification for me for years.

Living with scalp psoriasis

I was a theatre kid in middle school and high school, and I vividly recall being told to wear my hair in two braided pigtails when I played the mayor’s daughter in a production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I’m sure I turned bright red. I was 14 at the time and, like the majority of 14-year-olds, I was convinced that people were constantly looking at me, finding things to criticize about my appearance. So, of course, I assumed everyone had already noticed how often I scratched the back of my head; I assumed everyone saw me try to quickly brush flakes off my shoulders and back once I realized I had been absent-mindedly scratching my psoriasis plaques.

The braids would require my hair to be parted straight down the middle, all the way to the nape of my neck. I was sure everyone would see the angry, red, raw patch of scalp on the back of my head. It’s been nearly 25 years since that, and I acutely recall the embarrassment.

Handling psoriasis flaking

Nowadays, I am more secure about my appearance (thank goodness!) and not as worried about the flakes that show up on my shirts when I am in the midst of a flare. But they’re still present sometimes, especially during times of stress.

Which brings me back to the challenge issued by Lady Speed Stick: “Dare to wear black!”

And I do dare. I’m wearing a black sweater right now because it’s what I felt like wearing, even though my psoriatic arthritis is causing me back and hip pain as well as an extremely itchy scalp today. I’m trying to remember not to scratch when my head gets itchy, and I’m trying to pay attention to my lifelong habit of playing with my hair and running my hands over my scalp when I’m reading or really engrossed in a task.

Comfortable in my own skin

As we speak, my shoulders and back are relatively flake-free. But I’m keeping an eye out—I am not as worried about this issue as a was as a young teenager, but I am still anxious about it and don’t love the thought of people seeing me scratching, resulting in dead skin on my top.

What anxieties about scalp psoriasis do you still have even if you’ve lived with psoriatic arthritis for years? Share below—I bet lots of us can identify with your experiences.

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