Deciding whether to disclose your psoriasis is a personal decision. Whether you do should be based on your own individual needs and whether the psoriasis impacts your work. Before deciding, think about the following:
- Do you miss work based on flare-ups or the need for medical care?
- Do you need any special accommodations at work to help you cope with your psoriasis or to help you better do your job? (Remember, accommodations are not meant to improve your ability to do your job unless there are things you can’t do because of your condition.)
- If so, what accommodations would help?
- Are your lesions clearly visible and does this cause a concern to your coworkers or clients (based on misinformation or lack of knowledge)?
- Does your condition cause you pain or discomfort that impacts your job performance?
- Do you need to take time during the work day to maintain skin care?
Truthfully answering these questions should give you an idea of whether, and how, your psoriasis affects your work. People with mild or moderate psoriasis might find that they are able to manage their psoriasis with little or no disruption in their work and might choose to not disclose it to their employer. Those with more severe cases might find it helpful to talk with their supervisor about workplace concerns, explain their needs and discuss possible solutions.
Talking to Your Supervisor
If you decide you want to speak with your supervisor, ask to talk in private. Start by telling your supervisor you have psoriasis. Explain what it is and how it affects your work and discuss possible solutions. Be specific without being overly dramatic. For example:
- You may need to miss work because of medical appointments or tests. Explain that you will make those appointments early in the morning or late in the day to minimize time off. If you have several appointments or test that need to be scheduled, let your supervisor know you will work with him to determine if it is best to schedule them in one day rather than spreading them out over several days.
- You might need time during the workday to care for your lesions. Explain this helps to reduce the lesions and the discomfort you feel because of the lesions. If you feel uncomfortable performing the skin care in a public restroom, ask about possible private areas in the building you could use. If this is ongoing, let your supervisor know. If you only need a private areas during a flare-up, explain this as well and let him know you will communicate with him during these times.
- You might have times when the pain and discomfort from your psoriasis either causes you to miss time from work or affects your performance. If so, explain this and discuss ways to manage the situation. For example, are there times you can work from home? Are there times you can shorten your day? Are there other accommodations that might help ease the discomfort?
Work through your list of how psoriasis impacts your job and look for solutions for each area. If your psoriasis creates problems in interactions with coworkers and clients, talk about this and how it can be minimized.
You might find that disclosing psoriasis and working together with your supervisor is the best approach and reduces some of the stress of living with psoriasis. Keep in mind that many people, when they discuss psoriasis with coworkers, have found most people are understanding and supportive.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.