Let’s just get this point out of the way first: I have psoriasis and I’m a pole dancer. Pole dancing with psoriasis flare-ups over the years has caused me lots of challenges that I will share in this article, as well as tips on how I’ve managed my psoriasis.
I’ve had psoriasis since I was 19 years old which has come and gone over the years, but has stayed with me for the past 4 years.
It flares up on my thighs, feet, elbows, hips and back but I haven’t let it affect my progress as a pole dancer.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that causes skin cells to have an abnormally rapid turnover, as well as an increased growth rate.
This can lead to severe itching and flaking of the skin. Scales of dead skin cells may accumulate on the skin surface, particularly around the joints of the elbows, knees and scalp.
Psoriasis affects millions of people around the world in varying degrees.
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How does Psoriasis Affect Pole Dancers?
Psoriasis affects pole dancers in many different ways, from affecting our ability to grip well, affecting our self-confidence and having to wear different clothing to make pole dancing comfortable.
1. Psoriasis Makes Your Skin Extremely Dry and Needs Lots of Moisturizing
One of the main characteristics of psoriasis is the dryness and flakiness on your skin. Those of us with psoriasis will most likely have generally dry skin too.
This requires regular and consistent moisture. The thing with dry skin, it doesn’t just need moisture from water, it needs oil too.
There are 3 types of moisturizer:
- Humectant (Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid)
- Emollients (Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Mineral Oil)
- Occlusive moisturizers (Vaseline, Petrolatum)
Humectants works to draw moisture in from the atmosphere, emollients smooth rough edges and occulusives lock in all the moisture and stop moisture being lost through your skin.
As someone with psoriasis, I know that you have to moisturize daily (sometimes 2-3 times per day) for comfort. Moisturizer, especially oil-based moisturizers and dance poles don’t mix!
Wearing moisturizer to a pole dance workout means you’ll be a slippery mess and you won’t be able to grip the pole safely.
2. Psoriasis Affects your Confidence and Makes You Self-Conscious
As I’m sure you’re already aware, pole dancing needs skin in order to grip the pole effectively (unless you’re taking part in Chinese Pole – which uses a rough textured pole and is performed while fully clothed).
Psoriasis commonly covers areas such as the thighs, torso, hips and arms, so exposing these areas of skin during a pole dancing lesson or workout session can be daunting.
It is not a contagious condition, but many of us with psoriasis feel extremely self conscious of how this looks to other people.
3. Psoriasis can Affect Your Ability to Grip
Having patches of psoriasis on your body can seriously affect your ability to grip the pole.
If you have naturally dry skin, you’ll know that is challenging enough to grip the pole with. Flaking skin or psoriasis makes this even harder.
Many grip aids for pole dancers are designed to dry your skin out even more which makes the problem worse, not better!
Tips for Pole Dancing with Psoriasis
Here are some tips for pole dancing with psoriasis to help you get the most from your workouts.
Tip 1: Wear Sticky Leggings
This one saved my pole dancing journey! Sticky leggings are full-length leggings that are made of a specific grippy material that helps you to grip the pole without bearing your legs!
Sticky leggings for pole dancers are a genius idea.
If you wear these leggings, you can perform climbs and tricks such as the inverted crucifix without having to wear teeny tiny pole shorts that emphasize your psoriasis.
Tip 2: Moisturize AFTER your Pole Workouts (not before!)
So you already know that you have to avoid creams, lotions and oils on your skin as these inhibit your ability to grip the pole. But, as someone with psoriasis, you have to to moisturize daily.
So, the answer is quite simple.
Apply your creams AFTER your workout. Even better – apply them after your post-workout shower.
Tip 3: Avoid Certain Tricks During Active Flare Ups
If you have a current flare up of psoriasis, be especially careful to avoid aggravating it further by performing pole tricks that cause friction in that area.
For example, if you have psoriasis behind your knee, avoid a cross-knee release or Gemini, as these tricks cause a lot of friction behind the knee.
Choose other tricks to focus on instead. Psoriasis flare ups can come and go with time, so this gives you a chance to work on different tricks or spins while the current flare up heals.
Tip 4: Avoid Harsh Soaps and Shower Gels
Soap is one of the harsher surfactants available – try a more gentle body wash such as a soap-free cream which may cause less irritation to your skin.
As the pole also causes friction burns and bruises, many pole dancers find soap a bit too harsh for this reason.
Tip 5: Seek Medical Attention
If your psoriasis is flaring up and causing you distress, stop reading this blog and make an appointment with a healthcare professional such as a Dermatologist or Doctor who can advise to best course of treatment.
There’s a chance the pole dancing may be aggravating your condition further so you need to be extremely careful that you’re not actually making it worse.
Having psoriasis on your skin doesn’t mean that you can’t be an amazing pole dancer. When you’re performing on stage, it’s unlikely that anyone will notice the legions on your skin.
If you’re just pole dancing for fitness or fun but you still find that psoriasis is affecting your confidence, speak to a Dermatologist about treatment options.