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 any 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, which in moderation 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 five tips for staying warm without making your symptoms worse.
1. Forgo the parka.
That multi-layered, puffy jacket may keep the chill out, but it can also be insulating and 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.
2. Make your own hand warmers.
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.
3. Warm up with soup.
When you were a child, coming indoors to a steaming bowl of tomato soup was a comforting site after a day spent 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.
4. Use light therapy.
Light therapy or phototherapy is a popular treatment option for people with psoriasis. During this procedure, an ultraviolet light is used to penetrate the affected skin. This can clear up current symptoms and may prevent future flare-ups. Talk to your dermatologist before trying this type of therapy, especially if you’re thinking about an at-home UVB phototherapy.
5. Plan a psoriasis-friendly vacation.
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 also great European options.
Although you can’t escape the winter by hibernating like a grizzly bear, you can stay warm without making your psoriasis flare up. 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.
Written by Mary Baucom
Medically Reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI on October 31, 2016Read more in Psoriasis Resources
About psoriasis. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis
Frequently asked questions: Psoriasis in spring, summer, fall and winter. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/faqs/weather
Phototherapy. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/phototherapy
Poskin, A. (2015, November 11). Homemade holiday gift idea: Make these cozy lavender handwarmers. Retrieved from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/diy-lavender-hand-warmers-225340