Do you find that your psoriasis symptoms worsen during the cold weather? This isn't a coincidence - the dry, cold air in the fall and winter months is known to trigger psoriasis flares. The good news is that there are many things you can try to manage these symptoms. In this article, we discuss:
What is psoriasis?
Causes and symptoms of winter psoriasis
Treating winter psoriasis naturally
Read on to learn more about managing psoriasis the natural way.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by red, flaky patches on the skin. This is caused by an overactive immune system; while skin cells generally reproduce every 3 - 4 weeks, people with psoriasis have skin cells that reproduce every 3 - 7 days. As a result, patches build up on the skin that can become inflamed and itchy. These rashes may also coincide with joint pain, known as psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis affects men and women equally and is most frequently diagnosed in those between 20 - 30 and 50 - 60 years old. While it is not contagious, it is a chronic condition that does not have a cure. There are, however, many ways to treat and reduce its symptoms.
Causes of Winter Psoriasis
It's very common to experience psoriasis flares in the winter weather, but have you ever considered why that might be? In colder months, there is less available moisture in the air. This can cause dry skin, which makes you more vulnerable to flare ups.
The lack of sunlight during the winter season also plays a role in a higher risk of developing psoriasis symptoms. Ultraviolet rays - specifically UVB rays - are known to slow the rate of skin growth. This protects against the build-up of skin cells that cause psoriasis rashes. During the winter season, there is less UVB exposure, making the rapid growth of skin cells that cause psoriasis more likely.
Symptoms of Winter Psoriasis
How do you know whether you're dealing with psoriasis? Here are some signs you can look for:
Red or pink flaky skin patches, often on knees, elbows, scalp, or lower back
White or silver scaly skin on the psoriasis patches
Thick, pitted fingernails
Inflamed, swollen, and painful joints (psoriatic arthritis)
Tips for Managing Winter Psoriasis
Avoid Hot Showers
Although hot water can be a tempting relief in the cold weather, people with psoriasis should turn instead to lukewarm showers. This is because hot water can dry out the skin, which in turn can worsen psoriasis symptoms.
Keep Your Skin Moisturized with Natural Remedies
Nowadays, it's common to find skincare products with harsh chemicals and fragrances that only worsen psoriasis symptoms. Instead, try using natural, oil based moisturizing soaps and balms to relieve uncomfortable symptoms.
Thicker creams like the Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream soothe cracked skin and can relieve itchy psoriasis. It contains a very pure form of honey, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ideal to comfort and hydrate irritated skin. It can be used from head to toe, even on the most delicate parts of your skin.
Using a natural fragrance-free soap like the Coconut and Sunflower Oil Soap is a gentle way to cleanse dry, flaky skin. This soap contains coconut oil, sunflower oil, and shea butter, all protective oils that nourish sore, itchy skin. It's gentle enough for everyday use for both kids and adults.
One of the best things you can do to keep your skin hydrated is to keep your body hydrated. Aim for eight to ten glasses of water a day to keep your skin happy.
Try Light Therapy
One way that people with psoriasis can prevent or relieve symptoms is to use phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy). UV therapy works because it helps to reduce inflammation by slowing the growth of psoriasis rashes. Light therapy can be especially useful in the winter months when we tend to get less sun exposure.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Wearing protective clothing specifically for sensitive skin is a fantastic way to relieve the irritated skin associated with psoriasis. The unisex Remedywear™ Long Sleeve Shirt for adults and kids is designed to soothe common symptoms of psoriasis like itchy and flaky skin. Made with TENCEL and anti-inflammatory zinc, it is soft, breathable, and anti-bacterial. Pair this with the Remedywear™ Pants (available for adults and kids) for full coverage - either as a warming layer under clothes during colder weather or as a comforting set of pajamas to relieve psoriasis symptoms at night.
Stress is a significant contributor to psoriasis flares, but it's not always easy to eliminate all sources of stress in your life. It can be helpful to focus on strategies that allow you to manage your stress levels, such as:
Practicing meditation, mindfulness, and calming breathing techniques
Keeping your body active in a way that feels good for you
Seeking the support of a therapist
People with psoriasis may find that their mental health may be affected by psoriasis flares. It is natural to have concerns about how we look, so take comfort from the fact that you're not alone! Many psoriasis patients find it reassuring to speak with friends or family about their concerns or writing their worries down in a journal.
Add Moisture to the Air
Many people find that the dry air in winter months can trigger psoriasis flare ups. A home humidifier can add moisture to the air, preventing future flare ups.
The adage "you are what you eat" isn't far off the mark when it comes to looking after your skin. Eating a healthy diet with foods containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals can reduce inflammation, lessening your risk of psoriasis flare ups. Try increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish (i.e., salmon, trout), and healthy fats (i.e., olive oil, nuts) to boost your immune system.
Embrace Healthy Habits
Perhaps unsurprisingly, unhealthy lifestyle factors contribute to psoriasis flares. Prevent unwanted symptoms by decreasing your risk factors. We encourage you to:
Reduce alcohol consumption
Get enough sleep (aim for 7 - 8 hours per night)
Seek Advice from a Healthcare Practitioner
If your psoriasis symptoms worsen, it might be time to seek medical advice. With a healthcare practitioner's support, you can develop a psoriasis treatment plan that works for you.
Combat Winter Psoriasis Naturally
Dealing with psoriasis can sometimes be uncomfortable and even unsightly, but there are many things you can do to manage and prevent your symptoms. Try our tips today to soothe your skin and take control of psoriasis flare ups the natural way!