Cold bracing days and nights can wreak havoc on your skin, especially if you suffer from psoriasis. Here are some ways to combat flare-ups
Although it’s not often spoken about, more than 1 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from psoriasis. Around 40 per cent of these people say that their condition gets worse, and harder to deal with, during the winter months.
Mehmet Göker, Dermatology Specialist at Vera Clinic, explains, “The colder weather can often cause psoriasis to flare up. This is due to less sunlight and humidity, as well as heated and drier indoor air. The warmer weather can improve psoriasis because there is more natural sunlight and higher humidity (moisture in the air)”.
Living with psoriasis can be more debilitating than many people expect, with dryness, itchiness and flaking common effects all year round, but especially in the colder months.
Many patients with psoriasis go on to experience sore patches and broken areas of skin that make even basic tasks painful and difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and reduce the impact it has on your day-to-day life.
Here are five ways to relieve the effects of psoriasis in winter.
Choose good quality moisturisers
Moisturising your skin is one of the best ways to counteract dryness and ease flaking and itching, and is recommended for all patients with psoriasis, regardless of how severe their condition is.
Skin expert for Doctor’s Formula, Diane Francis, advises, “Keeping the skin moisturised is vital, so look for heavier creams and moisturisers”. Creams have a thicker consistency than lotions, and since most contain a higher percentage of oil, they also provide a barrier that helps keep skin ultra-hydrated and are more successful in preventing cracking.
If your skin is particularly dry and sore, you could consider a process referred to by dermatologists as occlusion. This is where an area of psoriasis is covered with a thick layer of moisturiser before then being wrapped in either fabric or plastic wrap and left overnight. This enhanced moisturising helps to loosen scales and reduce discomfort caused by excessive dryness.
Pick warm baths over hot showers
Many people love nothing better than a hot shower to warm them up in the winter but washing in very hot water could actually be contributing to flare-ups in psoriasis patients. Mehmet Göker clarifies, “Long showers in hot water remove the important layer of natural moisture from the skin”.
If you do this frequently, your skin simply won’t have enough time to replace the skin’s natural oils, exacerbating dryness. Instead, psoriasis-sufferers should choose to have warm baths to get clean, provided that they don’t soak for too long. You can even add oils to your bath for a more moisturising and luxurious experience, provided that they don’t irritate your skin.
Finally, it’s important not to overlook the relaxing aspect of bathing. Stress is a key contributor to psoriasis flare-ups, but regular baths encourage the muscles in the body to relax, releasing tension and relieving stress.
Like many other people, you may find that you naturally drink less during the winter months. Unfortunately, this could be having a negative effect on your psoriasis as well as your general health. Your body needs plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, even when it’s colder.
This is because water is the base for sebum production, which is the natural oil our body uses to lubricate itself. Drinking enough water also helps with joint health, with can help tackle the pain and stiffness that can occur if you also suffer from psoriatic arthritis.
Aim to drink the recommended six to eight glasses of water each day for optimal skin health.
Wear clothes that are kind to your skin
When your skin is already feeling irritated and sore, the last thing you need is to have to cover it with fabrics and materials that rub, cause you to sweat or feel itchy. These will only add to your misery and potentially make your skin even worse. Steer clear of denim, corduroy, leather and wool this winter, and wherever possible, choose soft cotton that lets your skin breathe.
Layer up to keep yourself warm and protect your skin from biting cold winds that could dry it further and trigger a psoriasis flare-up.
Speak to your doctor
If you aren’t able to get sufficient relief from the symptoms of your psoriasis using the tips above, it may be that you need to consider an alternative to your usual treatment during the winter months. Skin expert, Diane, continues, “More severe psoriasis can be treated with light therapy or tablets”.
Speak to your doctor about the different options that may be available to you. This could include increasing the dose of your current medication or trying a stronger alternative. Even if it’s just a temporary measure, changing your treatment could provide the relief you need from the effects of psoriasis this winter.
Read more: Books to brighten your 2022
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.