Caring For Psoriasis In The Winter
More than 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis. It is common to experience flare-ups of symptoms during the winter due to cold temperatures, dry air and reduced exposure to sunlight. Knowing that those conditions can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis, you’ll want to be proactive in your self-care. It’s easy when you know what to do.
Avoid hot water
A long hot shower or soak in a tub of hot water can sound appealing when you come in from the cold, but, if you have psoriasis, it's a bad idea. Hot water irritates sensitive skin and aggravates itching. Shower no more than once a day, keep the water lukewarm, use soaps for sensitive skin and avoid scrubbing. Be gentle with your skin!
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
Apply moisturizer on your skin as soon as you towel off after a shower or bath. Doing it right away helps seal in moisture so your skin doesn't get as dry. Petroleum jelly is one of the best moisturizers in the world. Use it at night or after a shower. If you're concerned because it's greasy, use it when you can wear old pajamas or sweats after applying. Your skin will absorb it after an hour or two. Also, ointments and creams moisturize better than lotions. If you prefer to use lotion, be prepared to reapply it frequently.
Get a winter tune-up
If your psoriasis usually gets worse in the winter, schedule a visit to your doctor before the cold weather hits. You can discuss whether the medications you're using are working as well as possible. There may be adjustments that can be made to your regimen to give you more relief in winter.
Light therapy has been a standard psoriasis treatment for years. Ultraviolet light slows the rapid growth of skin cells that occurs with psoriasis. In winter, we get less exposure to sunlight, so the use of light therapy can be especially helpful. It does require a time commitment, though, since it will probably require multiple sessions.
Stress can make any skin condition worse. Be aware of your stress level and the things that cause it to rise. Develop strategies for controlling it before a crisis hits. Having a game plan ahead of time is important. Take time to pamper yourself every day -- even if just for a few minutes. Because stress can trigger or worsen psoriasis, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends relaxation and stress-reduction techniques -- meditation and yoga, in particular -- to help psoriasis sufferers manage their disease. Exercise, massage, prayer, dance and laughter are just a few of the other stress busters that may work for you. Don't be afraid to try something new.
More on women's health
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the opinions of SheKnows, LLC or any of its affiliates and they have not been reviewed by an expert in a related field or any member of the SheKnows editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on the Site are not a substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on SheKnows. SheKnows does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.