A lot of people welcome the cool breeze of autumn and winter air. But for those who have psoriasis, a chronic condition with autoimmune and hereditary origin, the cold weather increases the tendency of attacks or flare-ups of the signs and symptoms. All types of seasons can pose challenges for people with psoriasis; but studies have shown that winter tends to be the harshest weather of them all. The cold weather tends to trigger flare-ups, exacerbate or worsen the condition. The associated holiday stress and winter diseases may also contribute to compromising the immune system and increasing the severity of the attacks.
The Relationship Between Cold Weather and Psoriasis
According to Dr. Bruce Strober, Director of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center: “The lack of humidity in the air allows the skin to retain moisture less well, and when that occurs, tiny cracks or fissures can develop on the surface of the skin” . The skin needs moisture to keep itself well-nourished and intact. Thus when exposed to cold weather, the skin loses its moisture and becomes dry; causing breakage and irritation. This would lead to itchiness and discomfort.
Cold Weather Psoriasis Management
Here are some tips to manage the flare-ups and prevent exacerbations of the signs and symptoms during a cold weather:
- Keep the skin moisturized – Using creams, bath oils, and lotions would be beneficial in keeping the skin moisturized. This would also help in reducing the redness and itchiness of the psoriasis patches. Moisturizers can also help in removing scales. Use the fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products to avoid allergic reactions.
- Drink lots of water – Water is an essential nutrient for maintaining a healthy skin. This would help in keeping the skin moisturized, prevent dryness, and reduce scale formation.
- Use a humidifier – Using humidifiers to keep the room air moist during the night counters the effect of indoor heating. Just remember to keep the humidifier clean to prevent accumulation of harmful microorganisms.
- Use warm baths instead of hot shower – A hot shower or bath especially when on a long duration, removes moisture from the skin. Instead, practice having a warm bath in less than 15 minutes. For people with preferences for warm tub relaxation, sprinkle some oil, Epsom salts, oilated oatmeal, and apply moisturizer after.
- Avoid stress – The holidays can really be stressful for everyone; and for people with psoriasis, it may lead to flare-ups. Schedule the holiday activities and insert relaxation periods in between. Include exercises, massage, and spa in your holiday schedule.
- Do not forget the treatment regimen – Plan and schedule the holiday activities earlier and coordinate with the physician for treatment adjustments and precautions review for the holidays.
- Wear the appropriate clothing – Protect your skin from the harsh, cold, outdoor air. Use scarf, hat, and gloves when going outside. Use easy to peel clothes to avoid overheating—which may worsen psoriatic conditions. Choose cotton fabrics and avoid clothing made of wool and denim.
With adequate knowledge and preparation for the cold weather and the winter holidays, people with psoriasis can still enjoy the winter holiday rush with friends and loved ones. Understanding how to manage psoriasis certainly makes the cold holidays warm and something to remember.