It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it? The winter months can be anything but wonderful for people with moderate to severe psoriasis.
That’s because cold weather can make psoriasis symptoms worse. There are several reasons for this:
- Cold and dry weather extracts moisture from your skin, which is already at a premium for people with psoriasis.
- Cold weather keeps more people indoors, where heaters can dry out the skin and trigger flare-ups.
- There’s less sunlight during the winter months. (Moderate sun exposure can help relieve symptoms.)
- Chilling temperatures can make psoriasis in your joints, known as psoriatic arthritis, more painful.
But you don’t have to sacrifice the joys of the season by succumbing to flare-ups. Here are nine tips for staying warm without making your symptoms worse.
That multilayered, puffy jacket may keep the chill away, but it can also be insulating, which may exacerbate flares.
Instead of one big jacket, wear several layers of cotton. This fabric is a smarter choice for people with psoriasis because it breathes better.
Cotton is also a natural fiber, so you’re less likely to have any chemical reactions to it. Synthetics, nylon, and polyester, on the other hand, lack the absorbing properties of cotton, which can actually make you sweat more.
Packaged hand warmers are convenient but not the best choice if you have psoriasis.
Air-activated, disposable hand warmers work through oxidation. This process traps moisture and holds in heat after the hand warmers are exposed to outside air.
Supersaturated solutions contain chemicals that ignite the heat. Both of these can be especially irritating for psoriasis symptoms.
If you’re feeling crafty or looking for an afternoon project, try making your own hand warmers like these. Adding lavender is a nice scented bonus, especially since essential oils may also improve psoriasis symptoms.
A steaming bowl of soup is a comforting sight to any child after a day spent outside playing in the snow. Carry on this childhood comfort by eating more warm foods like soups, stews, and chili.
Hot beverages are another way to stay warm. Just make sure to watch your caffeine intake, as this stimulant may be a trigger for your psoriasis.
Light therapy, or phototherapy, is a popular treatment option for people with psoriasis.
During this procedure, ultraviolet light is used to penetrate the affected skin. This can clear up current symptoms and may prevent future flare-ups.
Talk with your dermatologist before trying this type of therapy, especially if you’re thinking about at-home UVB phototherapy.
While picking up and permanently moving may not be a great solution, scheduling your vacation with your psoriasis in mind is always a good idea.
Opt for a beachside hotel in Florida as opposed to a ski resort in the Rocky Mountains. The Mediterranean Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Blue Lagoon are great overseas options.
Moisturizing creams or ointments can help lock moisture into your skin, which is important during the dry winter months. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people with psoriasis moisturize after every shower or bath.
Keeping the skin moisturized can help relieve dryness and itching. Avoid scented moisturizers and creams, and use moisturizing soaps.
Drinking more water in the winter can help to maintain moisture levels in the skin, which can help with psoriasis symptoms.
It can also help relieve inflammation in the body by helping to flush out toxins, and it can help keep joints lubricated to prevent gout.
A brief, cold bath or shower can help relieve pain related to psoriasis.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people with psoriasis keep their showers at 5 minutes and baths at 15 minutes.
Stress can cause psoriasis to flare, and while meditation is not a cure for psoriasis itself, it can help to relieve stress. Stress can also trigger inflammation.
Meditation can ease stress, help reduce anxiety, and mindfulness practices related to meditation can take attention away from psoriasis symptoms, such as itch.
Although you can’t escape the winter by hibernating like a grizzly bear, you can stay warm without causing a psoriasis flare.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you, and make sure to follow through with your psoriasis management.
Plan ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist a few weeks before the first snowstorm to talk about your most common symptoms and triggers.