For some, winter is a wonderland of white, snowy days, crackling fireplaces, and cozy knitted sweaters. For people suffering with plaque psoriasis, however, winter and early spring can be a nightmare filled with raw, itchy skin, ever-increasing irritation, and pain that never seems to go away.
There are a lot of things that can cause skin irritation in winter: dehydration, rapid weather changes, and illnesses — and trying to survive all of that can make things even worse. A lack of sunlight, whether from staying inside or cloudy days, can cause a depletion in vitamin D, which some say could trigger psoriasis flares. Heaters dry out indoor air which, in turn, dries out the skin. In short, for a lot of people with psoriasis, winter just stinks.
One of the best ways to defend against psoriasis flares is to plan ahead:
Layer your clothes — lightly
While layering will let you reduce how hot you get throughout the day, you have to be careful, too. Heavy layers can rub against you and make already irritated skin worse. Use light layers instead and be sure to remove them throughout the day to allow sweat to wick away from your skin and to prevent overheating.
Drink lots of fluids
When you’re busy, it’s easy to forget to drink fluids, but that’s a mistake. Fluids, especially water, keep us hydrated — something people with psoriasis sorely need — and not drinking enough can cause major issues for your skin condition. Instead of drinking cold water, try it lukewarm. You’ll still receive all the healthy-skin benefits without feeling like you need to bundle up after.
Eat healthily and take vitamins
It can be tempting to step away from a healthy diet during those long, dark winter months, but that temptation should be avoided if you suffer from psoriasis. Eating a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables can help combat depression, and taking supplements like Vitamin D will help prevent your levels from getting too low when going out into the sunlight often isn’t feasible. Turmeric or curcumin supplements may also be helpful in promoting skin and joint health.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
If you don’t already know, one of the biggest keys to managing psoriasis is moisturizing. In the winter it might not seem like an option because of clothing, but if you plan each layer, you can plan for undergarments that will help keep the moisture in, and keep your skin from drying out. Moisturize your skin more than once daily if it is possible. Try a heavier petrolatum-based moisturizer at night to help seal in moisture. These heavier moisturizers are also soothing and they can also help reduce itching that is worse during the drier months.
Take lukewarm baths or showers
Hot water can cause dry skin, flaking and itching. Be sure to take lukewarm baths or showers using a gentle, non-drying cleansing soap or body wash, and don’t forget to lather up with a moisturizer immediately after your bath or shower to trap moisture in.
Unfortunately, all the planning in the world won’t prevent every flare. There are still some things you can do to reduce your psoriasis symptoms when flare-ups do occur:
If you need to take time off to recover from an illness or flare, take it. Do whatever it takes to keep those stress levels down. A study by clinical researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn shows that regular meditation can help clear flares. Kabat-Zinn found that psoriasis patients who listened to meditation recordings saw their psoriasis clear in half the time as those who didn’t. Meditation not your thing? Regular exercise also helps to minimize stress and improve mood.
Use a humidifier
Heaters evaporate moisture that’s in the air, so using a humidifier will help replace it. Put one on your bedside table to reap the benefits while you sleep. This can help for most types of psoriasis (including a severely dry scalp, or scalp psoriasis), as air from a humidifier reaches just about all areas of your skin.
Wash your hands
A cold or the flu will tax your already overexerted immune system, so wash your hands and avoid contact with those affected by winter illnesses as much as possible.
Get plenty of rest
It might be tempting to go, go, go even when you’re experiencing a flare, but rest will help your body heal faster — and who doesn’t want that? The National Psoriasis Foundation has helpful tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep, including turning off your electronic devices and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.
Dealing with psoriasis in the winter or early spring can be rough, but with a little planning and preparation and by sticking to your plan, you can survive — and likely even thrive.
Prosoria users have found relief from their psoriasis symptoms even during the harshest winter months. Learn more about how our once-daily three-step psoriasis treatment system can help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and prevent recurrences. Visit our website at www.prosoria.com
Be clearer, be confident, be you.