Advice on talking to your boss and colleagues
Having psoriasis can affect your work life.1-3 About half of people with psoriasis have taken time off work due to their condition.3 If you are experiencing a flare-up and your psoriasis is making your job difficult, you may not be well enough to work and have to stay at home.1 You may also experience anxiety and depression due to your psoriasis.2 You may need time off work for this too.
It might help to think about the following common concerns so you can educate colleagues about your condition and avoid any difficult situations.
Should I tell my colleagues and managers about my psoriasis?
This is a personal decision. It depends on how you feel about your psoriasis and the impact it is having on you, your colleagues and your job.4 You might find it doesn’t disrupt your work, so there may be no need to tell your colleagues. If your psoriasis is impacting your work, you may feel it is a good idea to be open about it.4 Being open and honest with your employer and colleagues may mean they will be able to give you the support you might need at work.5 You might find telling people about your psoriasis reduces some of the stress of living with it.4
Who should I tell first?
You may want to tell your boss or direct supervisor. You may also want to tell colleagues who you work with closely. They are likely to be most impacted by your absences or most likely to have noticed your plaques.
While it may not be easy, if you tell your colleagues about your psoriasis, you may find they are more supportive when they know6
What should I say to my boss about my psoriasis?
When speaking to your boss, it is best to ask for a private meeting.4 Pick a time when neither of you are under pressure. It might help to make a note of what you want to say. Explain how it affects your work and discuss possible solutions to minimise the impact. For example, that you will try and book your doctor’s appointments early in the morning or at the end of the day.4 Tell them on the days you are struggling with your psoriasis you will prioritise your work to make sure the most important jobs are done first; before your energy lessens.1 You can also tell them how you will plan ahead. For example, getting work done early or arranging cover if you know you have an appointment during work hours.6
How should I discuss it with colleagues?
When speaking to your colleagues, again pick a time when none of you are under pressure. Give them a simple explanation of your condition, like: ‘I have a skin condition called psoriasis. My skin cells multiply much faster than normal. That’s why it’s all sore and flaky. You can’t catch it.2 Telling your colleagues can put them at ease and help relieve any stress you may be feeling.1
What are the benefits of being open about psoriasis at work?
Work can be stressful enough without having to hide your psoriasis from people. If you tell your colleagues, you may feel more comfortable about showing your affected skin at work. This means you will be able to wear clothes appropriate to the weather, rather than feeling hot in clothes that cover your psoriasis.
Once they know about your psoriasis, they will be more likely to be supportive.6 So you may find it easier to ask for help. For example, if you need an urgent job doing while you take time off for a doctor's appointment, or you may want someone to cover for you in a meeting because your skin is so itchy, you're finding it difficult to concentrate.
What if I don't want to talk about my psoriasis openly at work?
It is your right to keep your condition private and your decision whether you want to tell anyone.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
UK/IE MAT-26706 Date of prep: July 2019
- www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/living-with/coping-with-psoriasis-at-work (accessed July 2019).
- Recreational activities, relationships and everyday life with psoriasis. IQWiG. 2017. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435707 (accessed July 2019).
- AW Armstong et al. PLOS ONE 2012; 7(12): e52935.
- www.healthcentral.com/article/psoriasis-at-work-should-you-disclose-your-psoriasis-to-your-employer (accessed July 2019).
- fitforwork.org/blog/talking-to-your-employer-about-your-health (accessed July 2019).
- www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/emotional-support-psoriasis#1 (accessed July 2019).