A-Z

Psoriasis (young people)

Jobs, work and psoriasis

Some of the young people we spoke to were currently working or had experience of part-time jobs. Some people said psoriasis didn’t have a big impact on their work, but it had for others. Jack says he has more routine now with his job than when he was at university, which helps with remembering to apply topical treatments.
 

Steven talks about psoriasis in relation to his job.

View full profile
Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Does psoriasis make a difference to your work life?

At the moment it does, because I’m popping to hospital for check-ups every now and then. And moisturising once a day maybe at work but that’s really just like going to the toilet and no-one probably really knows. I’m a bit flaky around my desk [laughs]. And you kind of learn, kind of like just twice a day you have a quick like brush down. It’s not dreadful, because it’s not my hands, I think. If it was on my hands then, probably would be a bit different. But, I’ve noticed, working in IT and going round to do peoples computers and like things. You’re not alone. Like, there are, even in quite a small company there are a number of other people who have got some sort of, even if it’s not psoriasis, some sort of like-, you just look round thinking ‘ooh, ooh, it’s a bit of, a bit of flaky skin there, hm, okay’. And, in that respect I think people don’t notice so much with me, because I kind of, I’m quite conscious to keep it kind of at bay on the desk, if that makes sense. I kind of am quite like, like everything clean. Don’t like dust on my monitor or anywhere so I’m kind of like wiping it down. Also, because for me, working in IT, having to like kind of feel like I’m the kind of flagship of all things IT for my company – I have to be like, ‘right, we’re gonna be not like The IT Crowd, we’re going to do it like the nice way’. And so I’m quite conscious of it. Not to the point that I don’t think I realise I’m conscious of it now. I think it’s kind of like just built in like ‘oh, a bit flaky. Right, let’s brush it down’. I can see again how it could be a thing. The odd time people have mentioned it like, “Oh, a bit flaky”. But I’m like, “Yeah, you know me, it’s just my skin, like you know, sorry” [laughs]. And they’re normally like fine with it, so.
Issues related to having psoriasis and work/jobs for people include: 
  • work life and job interviews can be a source of stress
  • uniforms irritating/triggering the skin
  • worry about symptoms being visible and seen by others
  • needing time off work for medical appointments/treatments
  • being tired and less focused at work because of disrupted sleep
  • side effects from psoriasis treatments being visible and drawing attention, such as when Adam’s face was burnt after phototherapy and Lola’s hair being greasy after using a medicated shampoo
Psoriasis can add to the stress of going for a job interview. Some people worried that the appearance of psoriasis made it hard to ‘look professional’. Although employers are not allowed to discriminate against people based on their appearance, a few feared that having psoriasis might hinder them in job interviews. Simon thinks he’s been “turned down for jobs” in the past because of his skin condition and was on Job Seekers Allowance for four years before finding his current job.

People sometimes needed to take time off work to attend medical appointments. Others were able to fit appointments (including for phototherapy treatment) around shifts, but found it could be tiring after a while. Most people said they hadn’t taken time off work because of feeling self-conscious about psoriasis, but Adam remembered once working from home instead of the office when he felt low about his skin.
 

Psoriasis can affect Lucy’s confidence, including at job interviews.

View full profile
Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 11
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean, I went to an interview lately, recently, and it was a really hot day in [city name] and it was a long, it was like an assessment day and I had make-up on and I put my foundation on and I set it with powder, but then, because it was hot, it was, you know, it was starting to like come off. And then I was adding more powder. But that makes my psoriasis drier and I’m so aware of it and I want to make a good impression. And I know, that employers would, employers shouldn’t and I’m sure that they wouldn’t think, ‘oh, what’s that? What’s that skin on her, you know, she’s got really bad skin on her forehead’. But, unfortunately, I do think that appearance, especially in an interview sort of situation, is important and, you know, I wore smart clothes and I wanted my hair and my face to look smart as well. So I think that’s very important. I mean, if I’m just in the house with my boyfriend or I’m in the house with my mam and dad, sometimes I will just let my skin breathe and it’s lovely. It’s lovely to spend a day without make-up and to put loads of olive oil in my hair and to just sit and just be all moisturised up [laughs] it’s great. But other times, I think it, I find it very important to wear make-up. And at work, y’know, whenever I’m at work, I would wear make-up and uni.
 

Lucy had to take a day off work at short notice for an appointment with her dermatologist but her employer wasn’t very understanding.

View full profile
Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 11
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think another thing that, that sort of upset me was when I was working last year, I was working in a school and I was off for a day, because I’d had an appointment for my psoriasis, but it had, it had, it was really, really bad. And I was in class and I was scratching constantly and it was unbearable and I had tights on and I was hot and it was, it was really, really unbearable. And I’d put up with it for weeks. And, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it, it was really, really unbearable. And, it was a Friday and I’d managed to get an emergency appointment with the dermatologist and I rang my boss and I told them and everything. They were really understanding. But then I went in on the Monday and I can remember my boss – y’know I said, I apologised, I said oh y’know, “Sorry for being off on Friday.” Even though I shouldn’t really have apologised, cos I’d explained why. And my boss had said, “It’s okay, but you shouldn’t really be off if you’re not really ill.” And I was just like awrgh, do you know when your heart-, and my heart just sank and I felt like crying. And like, ah, I was, it was just awful. It was such an awful feeling. And I found myself explaining to her. Explaining to her all about my psoriasis and how uncomfortable I felt and how frustrating it was. And I said, I said, “Do you want me to take off my tights and show you?” And she’s like, “No, no, that won’t be necessary.” But I just think-, and it might have come across as her being nasty, but I don’t, I think it was her lack of understanding, that’s what it was. But it was so upsetting to sort of, to be seen by your boss as sort of, your boss sort of not trusting you when you say, y’know, “I’m having a day off, because of this, this is really bad. It’s a life-long condition.” To not trust you, to think you’re, y’know, I wouldn’t do that at all. And so, that was really, really upsetting. And, what ended up happening was, you know, we spoke at length about it and she did, it was a lack of understanding and everything. But that was really, really upsetting.
Some particular types of jobs were talked about by the young people we interviewed. These include:
  • Jobs and volunteer work with children, such as teaching. Some found this could mean being asked questions about their skin. Lucy found it rewarding being able to share her experiences to support students with psoriasis in her classes.

  • Working with food, including waiting tables and catering. People in these jobs often mentioned worries about skin flakes falling into food they were making or serving. Although it hadn’t happened to anyone we spoke to, many worried about customers making complaints. Abbie was pleased when she was allowed to wear a white shirt as her uniform, as skin flakes from her scalp were less visible. 

  • Working in healthcare. Carys is a hospital nurse and thinks that patients were put-off by seeing her skin because they might have falsely believed that psoriasis is something you can catch.

  • Shift-based jobs. Fitting in treatments around shifts was an issue for Abbie, Carys and Simon. This includes going to the hospital for phototherapy and routines of applying topical treatments.
 

Being bullied at school has had lasting impacts for Abbie. She works with children now and finds they can say hurtful things.

View full profile
Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 10
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Some people I'm pretty -, I am open with, and I will, I open - tell them. When you’ve got little kids and they’re asking, "Oh what's that, what's wrong with you, what's wrong with that?" "Oh, I've just got bad skin," and they like to ask more questions; it does kind of just -, "I’m tired, I don’t want to just have to explain to you cos I don’t actually know you either," whereas people with working, I do just kind of ignore it where some people do ask questions and…

It's just that I don’t really want to go into much detail and explain it whereas, unless you, I really know them and I will openly speak to them, and I have had like comments like -, there has been jokes from little children before where they were just making rhymes with my name so, "If Abbie gets grumpy she becomes crabby Abbie," and just little comments like that – they're fine. But then someone said, "Scabby Abbie," the one time and that really, really brought me down cos that’s what people used to say when I was younger, and I just couldn’t, no that really upset me.

How did you deal with that situation?

I just kind of battled through the work but when I get home it's just like, 'No, I've had one of those bad days and I just can't do it.' Usually end up, went to the bar [laughs] and just sat with just even people that I knew and just had a drink just to, just need to calm down cos it's not really one of the things that I [sniffed] enjoyed.
 

Simon’s new catering uniform will cover more of his psoriasis.

View full profile
Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 17
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
As a catering assistant we have the section where people go up to be served, it’s called a servery, and the, essentially big plates of food we’ve basically plated it up and you give, put in on a plate and give it to them. Now with psoriasis you’ve, you it becomes a bit of a dilemma because you have to wear short sleeved shirts. You also have to wear a very specific form of hat. Now, the skull caps can kind of cover up the psoriasis. However, on the negative side they end up rubbing against your forehead and that’s exacerbating the problem because of your sweat. And the compromise that I have reached with my manager is, simply put, he’ll basically think of some alternative clothes that I can wear instead of a short sleeve shirt and skull cap and, very simply, that’ll basically, oh, I’m sorry, it will, it helps if it means that you, it gets covered the scalp gets covered up and everyone’s happy. You’ll be able to fully do your job.
 
Text only
Read below

Carys found it hardest to have psoriasis on her hands because her job as a nurse meant that she was using/washing them constantly and that they were an infection risk.

View full profile
Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 22
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
With me, my arms and my hands were difficult because I washed my hands so frequently at work that you would-, say you had four days off in between shifts, you would get it looking really, you know, feeling better and looking less angry and then you go back and you’d undo it within a few hours because you’ve washed your hands that many times, that there’s absolutely no way that you could keep them looking as good. 

Because I’d plaques on my hands and my wrists and things and that some of them broke open and at the time I didn’t, didn’t realise, but when I saw Occupational Health after all my treatment, they said that I shouldn’t have been working at that point. But, as soon as the plaques broke open on any of my skin that was like bare below the elbows that’s the NHS rules, they said I should have been off sick because I was an infection risk to myself and somebody else at that point. But I didn’t realise and to be honest didn’t think anything of it, because, because my, I didn’t have an infection. I didn’t think about it, about- which obviously didn’t sit well, cos I wouldn’t wanna put anybody at risk but I didn’t actually get any infections or anything. But I know for next time that if I was to get it again and they were to break open I’d have to be off if it was on my hands or on my arms broken. Cos my hand washing just made it worse like you know, you can’t help it. You have to wash your hands every five minutes. So the ones on my hands just never-, were probably open a lot of the time really when I think back. 
Having psoriasis had shaped the careers that some people chose or hoped to have, in positive as well as negative ways. Megan says that she wanted to be a dancer but tight clothes irritated her psoriasis. Louis is a medical student and says his experience with psoriasis changed how he thinks about treating patients with skin conditions. Damini thinks going into a science career will mean her peers have an understanding about psoriasis.
 

Lucy’s message to young people is to not let psoriasis “hold you back”.

View full profile
Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 11
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And I always wanted to be an actress when I was younger. And that was difficult as well. I mean, I was in the National Youth Theatre so I did quite a lot of stuff, acting stuff. But I always thought ‘I won’t really be an actress because of this, like, it will hold me back’. You know, part of me thinks, ah, you know, would I be an actress now? But my ambitions changed and when I was at university I decided I didn’t wanna be an actress. But I think in terms of [microphone knock] sorry. In terms of young people thinking about what they want to do in the future, career wise, something like this can really hold them back. And it really shouldn’t. And it might seem like it has held me back, but my ambitions did change when I was at university and I decided I wouldn’t want to be an actress, because it would be difficult if I had a family, travelling around all the time and I’m quite a home bird and I wouldn’t wanna go down to London. So you know, that was my personal decision, but it’s, it’s so easy to let things like this hold you back from your ambitions and from what you want to do, especially young people. And when I was at, when I was a teacher, for a year, I just, I really really encouraged my pupils to be whatever they wanted to be, cos anything’s possible when you’re that age. And it, it’s exciting and you shouldn’t let anything like psoriasis, acne’s so common amongst young people, eczema. You shouldn’t let anything like that hold you back, because once you get older and once you get to my age, I think anything’s possible. Like if I want to be an actress, I might go to an open audition. You just, you can do whatever you want to do if you just go for it. You shouldn’t let anything hold you back and looking back now, I see myself and I see myself thinking, ‘oh, I can’t do that, I can’t do that’. And I wish I could speak to myself, you know what I mean? Or speak to young people now and say, “You can.” Like you shouldn’t let it hold you back, cos it’s such a shame if you do.
 

Megan would like to be a nurse – something which is inspired by the positive experience she’s had with her dermatology nurses.

View full profile
Age at interview: 16
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 7
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
What about a job in the future, do you think your psoriasis might affect any future jobs you'd like to do?

I really hope that it doesn’t affect what I want to do in the future. But, as I want to be a nurse, like a play nurse, because of obviously my story of psoriasis I kind of learned to know most of the nurses there, so I kind of like, they inspired me to be like a nurse when I'm older, and that’s what I want to do. And I think – I don’t think it would affect that because of like I'd be more worried about other children, and making them happy.

Yeah. Could you say a bit more about the nurses, and how sort of meeting them and getting to know them has sort of inspired to want to do something like that?

I've met loads of nurses over like the period of my nine years, and they all like made me feel really special and happy. And it’d just be some of the comments they'd say to me sometimes like, I'd be walking for a blood test, and cos I didn’t like them I'd get myself really worked up, especially when I was like nine. And they'd always used to put in little comments that would make me smile.

Or when I was having blood tests they'd play with me, and like make me happier, and like that’s kind of inspired me because they made me happy, and I want to make other children happy, so that they feel what I felt when I was at the hospital. 
Some people had supportive employers and colleagues. Lola likes it when her colleagues compliment her skin and remind her not to scratch. A few people had met others with psoriasis through their work and volunteering. It could be nice to talk to them about similar experiences. However, not everyone had positive experiences with colleagues or customers. Some chose to keep the fact they have psoriasis to themselves. When Adam was working in a bar, he once heard his colleagues being rude about a customer with psoriasis which made him feel really upset.
donate
Previous Page
Next Page