If you suffer from psoriasis, you know that there are certain triggers to avoid: stress, alcohol, injury, and infection. Another common trigger is cold weather. The cold, dry air of winter can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis and cause greater discomfort. But there’s good news: there are many things you can do to care for your skin and body so that you maintain control of your psoriasis during the winter months.
There are a variety of types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis is the most common. Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune disease caused by the rapid build-up of extra skin cells on the skin’s surface. This build-up results in scales and red patches that are usually itchy and sometimes painful. Psoriasis can also create painful, swollen joints and thick, pitted nails. Psoriasis often flares up and then subsides for a while.
Even though psoriasis may go into remission, it can’t be cured. However, there are many things you can do to manage the psoriasis symptoms, including lifestyle changes, medical psoriasis treatments, and medications.
Cold weather is a common trigger for psoriasis. Cold weather usually means drier air, which can increase the skin’s dryness on the psoriasis plaques. And as the skin gets drier, it is more likely to crack, bleed, and get infected. Cold weather is also frequently accompanied by less daylight. Measured amounts of sunlight can help reduce scales and patches on the skin. This is because the UVB light from the sun slows down the production of skin cells. It also helps your body produce vitamin D, which is beneficial to your skin. When your skin isn’t getting these UVB rays from the sun during the winter months, you may experience a worsening of your psoriasis plaques and inflammation.
So, how do you provide your skin the extra care it needs in the cold weather? Here are some easy home remedies for psoriasis so that you are protecting and treating your skin well. When you bathe, you are washing away your body’s natural oils that protect and moisturize your skin. You want to keep as much of your body’s natural moisturizers in place as possible. When you are bathing, make sure you are showering or taking a quick bath. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you limit your showers to 5 minutes and baths to 15 minutes or less. Soaking in a bath can further dry out your skin. Use gentle soaps with moisturizers or soaps made for sensitive skin. Remember to use lukewarm water instead of hot water and be careful not to scrub your skin with loofahs or washcloths. Dab your skin dry after bathing. Be careful with what you wear. While it is tempting to wear warm wool fabrics in cold weather, stick to gentler cotton blends. The coarseness of wool can irritate your skin and increase inflammation and itchiness of your psoriasis. To combat the dry air of colder weather, use a humidifier. This is especially easy to do at night, when you can turn the humidifier on and bathe your skin in moist air all night. It’s important to keep your skin well-moisturized. Apply thick creams and moisturizers at least once a day. Moisturize at least 1x/day or more if you have extremely dry skin.
While employing these at-home tactics, it’s also important that you seek medical help to get the best care for your psoriasis in the cold weather. There are a variety of medical treatments that can help treat flare-ups or prevent new ones. One way to treat psoriasis is through topical medications, like corticosteroids, emollient creams, and retinoids. If your psoriasis isn’t responding to other treatments, your doctor may suggest the use of oral or injected medications for a short period of time. Some of these psoriasis medications include biologics, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and oral retinoids. Another common treatment route is phototherapy where a doctor exposes the skin to ultraviolet light, which helps to decrease cell production, suppress the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
If you are a psoriasis sufferer, contact Vanguard Dermatology in the greater New York City area today. The board certified dermatologists at Vanguard will partner with you to create a plan of at-home remedies and medical treatments so that you get control of your psoriasis and experience the relief you desire.