Feel-good threads


POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blame it on Tegrin, the medicated shampoo that was advertised repeatedly as a partial treatment for “;the heartbreak of psoriasis”; so that every hypochondriac imagined every skin bump and patch was an indication they had the disease.

The reality of the disease caught up with Trisha Lagaso Goldberg in a devastating way in fall 2007 when she was diagnosed. Through three months the condition progressed from mild to severe, making her softest jeans feel like sandpaper against her skin. Her favorite natural fibers feel painful, “;like tiny daggers stabbing at my skin.”;

In going public with her condition to help others suffering from the disease, the Aiea woman was named one of eight winners of the national Addressing Psoriasis Contest, and chosen to model custom-designed outfits by emerging talent from the Fashion Institute of Technology in a New York fashion show Sept. 2, hosted by Tim Gunn.

The contest recognizes people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who try not to allow the condition to inhibit their fashion choices. The winners were selected based on the inspirational nature of their stories of overcoming the challenges of plaque psoriasis and taking back their personal style.

Goldberg has been matched with Alexa D'Amico, a third-year production management major at FIT who created an organic, fashion-forward collection for the Sustainable Business and Design fashion show, and organized a team of student designers to stage a fashion show as part of the American Cancer Society's “;Relay for Life”; benefit.

In a news release, D'Amico said her aim is to create a garment that will have Goldberg “;feeling beautiful inside and out!”;

Goldberg heard about the contest in March, and although she had wanted to keep her condition private because of her public profile with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and as curator for thirtyninehotel, she said, “;It struck a chord with me because I struggled with it a lot. It spoke to an issue so close to my condition, as a person who loves fashion but couldn't wear any of my clothes.”;

PSORIASIS IS commonly diagnosed in early adulthood. Certain people might be genetically predisposed to develop psoriasis, but a “;trigger”; often seems to cause symptoms to appear. These triggers can include emotional stress, injury to the skin, some types of infection, or reaction to certain drugs.





        According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 7 million people in the United States suffer from psoriasis, a noncontagious chronic disease in which the immune system causes the skin cells to grow at an accelerated rate and release proteins called cytokines.

Tumor Necrosis Factor, or TNF, is one of the cytokines in patients with plaque psoriasis that is overproduced, causing inflammation that drives formation of painful skin plaques. These are lesions that appear as patches of thick, red or inflamed skin covered with silvery scales. Instead of being shed, skin cells pile up, causing painful and itchy patches.


Dermatological treatments for plaque psoriasis include topical medications that slow or normalize excessive cell production and reduce inflammation, phototherapy that involves exposing the skin to wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation for moderate to severe forms of psoriasis, prescription medications or biologic therapies that act on immune system cells and proteins.




“;The onset for everyone is different, but for me it was a result of work stress, also something people can relate to. We don't take enough care of ourselves,”; said Goldberg, whose mother also suffers from psoriasis.

“;The ability to have psoriasis was already in my body, but maybe I could have delayed the onset of the disease.”;

She quickly discovered all the natural fibers she loved were out. Cotton, linen and silk fabrics all irritated her skin, and she realized she needed all new clothes. Without the budget for a closet overhaul, she decided to turn her holiday craft sales into her psoriasis clothing fund. Then she waited for the Black Friday sales.

“;I raised a lot of money and spent every last cent,”; she said, adding she was surprised to find, in the process of rebuilding her wardrobe, that what worked was polyester.

“;It's quite ironic because I was such a snob about polyester, like, who would wear that? Since then I've developed a respect and devotion to synthetic fibers. Modern technology has made it possible to create incredibly smooth, flat threads that feel good against the skin.

“;The trade-off is they don't breathe, and in Hawaii that's a challenge,”; she said. “;I bring a fan and try to be in air-conditioning as much as possible, and try to dress more coolly.”;

She's also a devotee of Calvin Klein yoga pants, a tolerable cotton/polyester blend. “;I wear a lot of cotton/polyester blends now.”;

Goldberg admits she still feels self-conscious about her skin in a place where “;people wear shorts and tank tops every day, but I find there are other ways to feel fashionable and keep up with trends.”;

She said she's excited that she'll be able to meet Tim Gunn, the fashion consultant for “;Project Runway”; and host of TV's “;Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.”; He got involved with the project because his sister also suffers from the disease, and he said, in a release, “;Psoriasis is a chronic condition, but it doesn't have to define who you are or how you present yourself to the world. If you have psoriasis, it is important to educate yourself about how you can take an active role in your condition, and your style.”;

“;Before participating in this,”; Goldberg said, “;I was really shy about talking about my condition, but it has been such an incredible, positive experience for me to share my story with people and I couldn't ask for a better opportunity to raise awareness of the disease.”;

The public can vote for the winner's story they find most inspirational by visiting http://www.addresspsoriasis.com. The story voted most inspirational will be recognized on the Addressing Psoriasis Web site. Hometown supporters can vote once per day through Aug. 21.