9 tips for surviving the winter with psoriasis
With the temperatures dropping quickly, now is the time to prepare your skin for the winter months. Check out our 9 tips for staying beating the cold this season:
If you have psoriasis, you might not be a huge fan of winter, and who can blame you? For some people living with this condition, winter can wreak havoc on your skin1, bringing flare-ups, sleepless nights and that dreaded feeling of wanting to hibernate until symptoms improve.2
Why symptoms get worse in winter
There are a number of reasons winter can be bad news for your skin. A drop in temperature is one of them. Turning up the heating dial when it gets chilly strips the air of what little moisture there is, drying out skin and making it more sensitive3. There’s also the fact that reduced sun exposure means your body’s levels of vitamin D (made by the skin in response to sunlight) can drop significantly4. We know that vitamin D deficiency is common in people with psoriasis anyway, but it is especially prevalent during winter5. Since vitamin D plays a role in the growth of skin cells as well as in the regulation of the immune system, it’s no surprise that flare ups are more common during this time of year. 6,7
Short of packing up your belongings and moving to a more pleasant climate, there’s not a great deal you can do to control the weather. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of practical ways you can reduce the impact of winter conditions on your skin:
- Be careful with soap
As well as stripping it of moisture, soap can alter the natural pH of the skin, making it more prone to irritation8. Consider using a soap-free body wash each time you lather up for a gentler cleanse.
- Take a bath…with oatmeal
It might sound odd, but soaking in an oatmeal bath can be soothing and help loosen scales. Just fill a sock or cloth with oats and put it in the tub or use over-the-counter oatmeal bath products9. When oats come into contact with water they produce a gelatinous film that both protects and moisturizes the skin.10 Just make sure the water isn’t too hot and be sure to apply a moisturizing cream as soon as you get out.
If you don’t have time for baths, put a call into the doctor, because other quick remedies like applying body oil in the shower and keeping the temperature low may also help prevent skin from drying out afterwards.1
And no matter whether you take a quick shower or a relaxing bath, be sure to resist the urge to scrub too hard, as this can irritate the skin and might even trigger a flare-up8.
- Invest in a humidifier
Central heating dries out the air during winter, so a humidifier can be helpful2. These handy gadgets force moisture into the atmosphere in the form of an invisible mist, however a bowl of water or a wet towel placed on top of a radiator can also be just as effective.
- Slather on skin cream
Apply a thick moisturizer at least two times a day (ideally when skin is damp) to protect your skin and keep it well hydrated2. Products that contain urea or salicylic acid can help to soften and remove dry skin build up in affected areas12.
- Feed your body with psoriasis in mind
Omega-3 fatty acids may have important anti-inflammatory benefits in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis13. Eating foods that are naturally rich in these essential fats – such as flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel), walnuts and almonds14 – may help keep skin healthy.
- Wear cotton and bamboo
Although a woolly jumper might be cozy, scratchy fabrics can aggravate sensitive skin. Because of that, it is important to always wear a soft cotton or silk layer beneath to minimize irritation.17. Not only does what you wear matter, but also how you wear it. Wearing tight clothes can rub on existing lesions and cause even more irritation18.
- Keep stress in check
The festive season can be one of the most stressful times of year. We know that stress can aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis19, so try not to take too much on for your skin’s sake. Talk to your doctor and see what you can do to relieve stress.
- Go outdoors
Take advantage of what little sunlight there is by getting outdoors on brighter days to boost your vitamin D levels – as well as your mood. 20
- Speak to your doctor
If your skin condition does deteriorate over the winter, it’s definitely worth making an appointment to see your doctor. No matter what you do, you can’t always control your flare-ups and your doctor will be in the best position to help.
There you have it. Nine ways to to survive a winter with psoriasis. Have any tips of your own? Share them on our Facebook page.