Cycling with Inverse Psoriasis

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on January 27, 2016Written by Brian Krans on January 27, 2016
cycling and psoriasis

There’s nothing better than a good ride, but anyone with psoriasis knows that it’s not always going to be a comfortable one.

More specifically, cyclists who suffer with inverse psoriasis in their groin area know all too well the discomfort the condition can bring when you’re in the saddle.

But there are plenty of different ways to deal with this common form of psoriasis, without it getting in the way of a good ride.

What Is Inverse Psoriasis?

Inverse psoriasis, also known as intertriginous psoriasis, is a form of psoriasis that develops in the folds of the skin, such as in the armpits, groin, or under the breasts.

The red lesions are often smooth and shiny, unlike plaque psoriasis, which primarily affects the exterior of joints like knees and elbows. Inverse psoriasis appears more like a rash than anything else.

Inverse psoriasis is more common among obese and overweight people, as they may have more skin folds.

Unfortunately, it’s also prone to getting irritated by physical activity, as rubbing and sweating can aggravate the affected area. This makes it difficult for athletes, both professionals and weekend warriors, who have the condition.

Choosing the Right Lotions

The only plus of inverse psoriasis is that it responds well to treatment. This is, in part, because it affects thin and sensitive areas of the skin. While they can be aggravated more easily, they can also heal more quickly.

Topical treatments are the most common way to deal with psoriasis, but because inverse psoriasis appears on thinner skin, you have to be careful about which types of ointments and lotions you use. Steroid-based creams and salves thin the skin; using powerful corticosteroid topical cream can leave the skin more prone to sores, or in the worst case scenario, even cause the skin to tear. And if you’ve ever torn the skin of your groin because of inverse psoriasis, you know it’s a painful experience not to be wished upon your worst enemy.

You can work closely with your doctor to find the right strength topical treatments. Some compounding pharmacies offer moisturizers mixed with corticosteroids to keep their potency low and keep them safe for everyday use.

Other forms of moisturizers — such as coconut oil, Metaderm, and glycerine — may be more effective at controlling the redness and inflammation, while also helping calm the itching.

During rides, you might try using a thin layer of petroleum jelly, which can help skin from being irritated by friction. But it won’t control any itching.

People with severe psoriasis, especially in hard-to-treat folds, may benefit from biologic treatments. These are protein-based drugs you receive via injection or intravenously. They target specific areas, unlike most other psoriasis treatments, and work by dampening the immune system to prevent psoriasis from attacking healthy tissue.

Dressing for Inverse Psoriasis

Experts recommend that people with inverse psoriasis in their groins and other problem areas wear loose clothing and cotton underwear, such as boxers for men.

Cyclists, however, could list a hundred reasons why these are bad ideas for a ride. Cycling requires tight-fitting clothing to reduce wind speed and reduce irritation from rubbing fabrics.

Most importantly, choose riding clothing that fits well. It should be snug, but not constrictive. Also, ensure that the seams won’t dig or cut, as this can aggravate your psoriasis further.

The Takeaway

There is more than one way to deal with troublesome inverse psoriasis.

It can take some time and trial and error, but working closely with a medical professional can ensure your condition doesn’t interfere with the time you spend on your beloved bike.

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