I had a friend over today – she said, “yours is the first soap I can use at someone else’s house, it doesn’t hurt my hands”.
Access Is Love, as Alice Wong says.
Skin conditions – especially the severe ones (like Ichthyosis) can be painful, itchy, allergy prone, annoying and can make people self conscious. They can flare for no reason.
Here are some ways you can provide accessibility for a friend or colleague with a skin condition:
- Ask if your friend has any dietary requirements, and cater accordingly. I know so many people who have skin conditions and food allergies (like nuts and dairy). I’m very lucky that I have very few allergies (I can’t touch shellfish, but can eat it).
- Have some low scent/allergy sensitive soap and toiletries on hand for when your friend comes to visit. I have MooGoo hand wash, but there are other options like Sukin and goats milk brands. And keep some sensitive dishwashing liquid and latex free gloves under your kitchen sink – in case there’s a time your friend does the dishes.
- Similar to the soap, keep indoor areas fragrance free. Avoid wearing heavy perfumes or deodorants, and don’t spray air fresheners or insect spray close to your friend.
- Ask whether the temperature is ok – and adjust accordingly. Many people with Ichthyosis (and other skin conditions) cannot regulate our temperature, and so are often sensitive to very cold temperatures, or the heat. I have often frozen when I’ve gone to peoples’ houses and been sore because they haven’t turned the heater on – but it’s not as easy as just putting a jumper on for me. Similarly in the unbearable heat in summer, I am so thankful when someone turns the aircon on for me. When I was working at Ubud Writers Festival, all my events were in airconditioned venues (most were not), and this benefited me and the attendees.
- It’s not always possible to catch up outdoors. See the temperature point. I’m finding that covid safety rules and recommendations sometimes conflict with my access needs and this can make for very uncomfortable outings (or I don’t go at all).
- Get vaccinated (for covid and many illnesses) and wear a mask.
- If in doubt, ask how you can make things more accessible for your friend with a skin condition.
Obviously my experiences are my own, but I do know they’re not unique to me (because people with skin conditions compare notes!).
Have you got any tips to share?
Has this post helped you or made you think? Will you use it in your workplace or school? Please consider buying me a drink!
Image above: a blue background with lots of Care Bears and stars and rainbows on it. An orange box with white text says “Accessibility provisions for people with skin conditions” and a purple box with text that reads: “CarlyFindlay.com.au”