If you’re living with psoriasis, winter means more than bundling up and grabbing your umbrella. During the colder seasons, the lack of sunlight and dry air can often trigger painful flare-ups.
If cold weather is causing your psoriasis symptoms to act up, the following eight remedies can help get you through winter with minimal discomfort.
During the winter months, you may need to apply more heavy-duty moisturizer than when it’s warm out. Thicker creams and topical lotions can help soften your skin and reduce “hotspots” that may be particularly dry and sensitive. When possible, try to avoid using moisturizers with added perfumes and chemicals, as they may irritate your skin.
Doctors typically recommend moisturizing only once or twice a day to prevent over-saturation. But you may need to apply moisturizer more frequently if the weather is particularly cold.
The lack of humidity during colder seasons can sometimes lead to dry, cracked skin and psoriasis flare-ups. Get a small humidifier for your home to add moisture to the air in your bedroom or living space. Keeping a humidifier on in your bedroom overnight can help ensure you won’t wake up feeling dried out and itchy on chilly winter mornings. Full-home humidifiers that attach to your heating system are also available, though they may be more expensive.
Frigid weather may tempt you to take a long, hot shower, but bathing in water that’s too hot may worsen your psoriasis symptoms. Hot water dries out the skin and can irritate sensitive patches upon contact. Try to take showers or baths that are warm enough to soften your skin, but not so hot that they cause discomfort. To avoid chafing, pat yourself dry with a soft towel when you get out of the tub or shower, rather than rubbing the towel against your body.
Getting UV light from the sun is one of the simplest ways to manage your psoriasis symptoms. But during the winter months, sunlight comes in short supply. Your doctor may be able to provide you with the next best thing: phototherapy treatment.
Using a special light ray, you can expose your skin to regular intervals of UV light that will help to reduce psoriasis symptoms and prevent flare-ups. It may be tempting to go to a tanning salon for light therapy, but tanning beds are not an optimal substitute for real sunlight, or medically-supervised light therapy, due to the risk of melanoma.
Although there’s no special diet to prevent psoriasis flare-ups, you can still make an effort to eat more omega-3 fatty acids like olive oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds, as well as colorful vegetables like kale, carrots, and blueberries. These foods contain anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods and beverages that are thought to cause inflammation, such as red meat, dairy products, and coffee.
We tend to drink less water during winter, which can sometimes lead to dehydration and trigger a psoriasis flare-up. Make sure to drink water regularly, even if you’re not particularly thirsty. We’re also likely to drink more alcohol when it’s cold to help warm us up and cope with any feelings of seasonal affective disorder. Drinking alcohol also causes dehydration, and has been linked to an increased chance of flare-ups. It’s fine to have a few drinks now and then, but moderation is key.
During winter, thick wool sweaters and socks usually come out in full force. While they may be warm and cozy, materials like wool tend to be scratchy and could potentially irritate sensitive patches on your skin. The best way to avoid this is to dress in layers and wear soft, natural fibers like cotton or bamboo against your psoriasis problem areas.
The winter months are typically the most stressful months of the year, especially during the holidays. Stress can be a major trigger for psoriasis flare-ups. You can manage stress at home with meditation or deep breathing techniques. It might also be helpful to take your stress management routine out of the house once in a while. Signing up for a yoga or exercise class will not only help you destress, but will also force you to be more social. This can improve your mood and sense of well-being.