The effect of psoriasis on work life and how to cope
Psoriasis affects the working life of many people. Having psoriasis can affect career choices, result in absenteeism or unemployment, decrease work productivity, and lead to stigmatisation in the workplace. Work-related stress can contribute to exacerbations of psoriasis, while having psoriasis can increase stress at work.
Coping with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis at work can be very challenging. A 2014 survey by the National Psoriasis Foundation found that 5-10% of people with psoriasis said that their disease had affected their career pathway, by turning down a promotion or leaving a job. This was higher still in patients who had joint involvement, with 12% turning down a promotion because of their psoriatic arthritis, and 21% leaving their job. Several studies have also shown that psoriasis can result in reduced productivity on the job. Studies of psoriatic arthritis patients show a 35-46% decrease in work productivity due to the impact of their disease.
Psoriasis can be embarrassing. The reaction of colleagues, particularly those with little knowledge about psoriasis who think psoriasis is an infection or contagious can be demoralising and stigmatising. The scales and flakes which can be visible on work suits, on desktops and other work areas can be distressing and humiliating. The psychological impact of psoriasis can be immense - psoriasis patients have higher rates of depression and anxiety, which in turn can affect work performance.
Successful treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can have a dramatic impact on quality of life at work and on work productivity. According to multiple studies, patients taking biologic treatments for their psoriasis may experience an improvement in their work performance alongside the improvement of their disease. Studies have shown 60-67% reductions in work productivity loss with biological treatments such as Humira and Stelara. Another study showed a 30% improvement in presenteeism in patients with psoriatic arthritis treated with TNF inhibitors.
It is important not to feel alone if you struggle to deal with your psoriasis in the workplace. Here are some helpful tips from the National Psoriasis Foundation to help cope with your psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis at work.