Its winter time and most of the people having psoriasis are experiencing a flare up; the intensity may vary.
How to manage psoriasis in the winter?
This is the question of the hour!!
Winter season is not considered a good season for people suffering from various skin disorders. Psoriasis is no exception. In fact, psoriasis and weather change has a direct relationship.
- Generally, psoriasis gets worse in winter (for some people, rainy season also worsen psoriasis) and skin condition shows improvement in summer.
- In some cases, when a person is photosensitive (sensitive to sunlight), psoriasis would get worsen in the summer instead.
Psoriasis in the winter season
For most of the people with psoriasis, winter is a dreadful time. Cold winds, low humidity, wet weather and successive days in darkness (without sunlight) – all these things altogether can make your skin super dry and itchy.
Reasons for Psoriasis flare up during the winter season
- Cold weather- As stated earlier, environmental conditions during the winter season can take away the moisture from your skin to make it utterly dry. Psoriasis itself is a skin condition which is characterized by extreme skin dryness. Hence, the overall dryness effect would increase tremendously to flare up your psoriasis.
- Prolong use of room heaters- During winter, use of room heaters is quite common in houses and offices to keep the environment warm and comfortable. For a person having psoriasis, this continuous indoor heating can be a trouble maker. This indoor heating would have a drying effect on your skin and prolong exposure of your skin to these hot radiations can make your skin dry and itchy.
- Reduced exposure to sunlight- The UV rays of sunlight have a natural healing effect on your sunlight. During winter, there would be successive days without sunlight. And, even when the sun rises, your skin would not get enough exposure to sunlight because of your heavy clothing.
- Attack of cold and flu- Every time I get sick, my psoriasis flares. It is the same case with you also? When you got cold and/or flu, your immune system gets hyper-active to fight off the infection causing viruses and bacteria. Such a furious immune system would further increase the growth of skin cells to make the psoriasis patches thicker and denser.
- Increased stress level- Weather change is inevitable. It is a natural process. During winter, you just can’t force the Sun to appear or you can’t do anything to stop those cold winds from blowing. As a result, your psoriasis would flare up. Hence, it is quite predictable that winter months would be more stressful for all the people suffering from psoriasis. Increased stress means severe psoriasis. Also, there is a medical term- the winter blues. It is a type of seasonal affective disorder (depression related to weather change) – depression due to less sunlight in winter and fall. Long Christmas holidays do contribute to this seasonal stress disorder. When you are already dealing with psoriasis which involves a lot of physical and emotional stress, you can be an easy target for the winter blues. Hence, in totality, increased stress levels during winter also play a role in worsening your psoriasis.
- Drinking less water- In general, we drink less water in winter. Apart from drinking water after the meals and a little water in the morning after waking up, we hardly drink any water throughout the day. Less water consumption means less hydration of skin (less moisture) and hence, dryness effect of cold weather would be highly visible. Also, drinking less water would obstruct the process of smooth elimination of toxins from your body. Accumulation of body toxins can also flare up the psoriasis.
- Uncomfortable clothing- In winter, people would wear heavy clothes. These heavy clothes would rub against your psoriasis patches more frequently. Also, heavy clothes can make you sweat sometimes and when the sweat would not find any way to evaporate, it would ultimately aggravate the psoriasis by making you rub the skin again and again.
How to manage Psoriasis in the Winter
- Keep your skin moist- Psoriasis is characterized by extreme skin dryness. This dryness can go many folds in winter season. It is very crucial to keep your skin moist with various herbal/natural topical solutions, Use a moisturizing soap and shampoo. Use moisturizing cream immediately after bathing so that water gets locked in your skin. Opt for a fragrance free, natural moisturizing cream with active ingredients such as aloe vera, shea butter, cocoa butter, manuka honey etc.
Click here to read: How to select a skin moisturizer for Psoriasis
- Opt for a warm water bath instead of hot water- Long bathing in hot water can strip off moisture from your skin. Also in increases the skin inflammation and makes your skin red. Choose warm water for bathing and don’t make bathing time too long. And, as explained earlier, apply moisturizing cream immediately after bathing to lock the water in your skin.
- Using a humidifier- During winter, use of room heaters for longer duration in houses and work places can flare your psoriasis. To counter the drying effect of these room heaters, use a humidifier to keep the indoor air moist. In case you are using room heaters in your bedroom for the whole night, using humidifier is highly recommended otherwise you would wake up with a dried itchy skin in the morning.
- Drink water in liberal quantities- Drinking enough water is one of the easiest ways of flushing off the toxins from your body and keep your internal body metabolism healthy. Also it hydrates your skin to retain the natural moisture. In winter, we drink less water than summer. When, you drink less water, moisture level in your body decreases. Hence, drinking enough water is one of the most easiest, yet very effective way of keeping your skin moist. Confused if you are drinking enough water or not? Check the color of your urine. If it is pale yellow to colorless, you are drinking a good amount of water. But, if it is dark yellow, you need to drink more water.
Click here to read: Benefits of drinking warm water for Psoriasis
- Relieve stress- Most of the people suffering from psoriasis experience flare up in winter. Hence, winter can make you feel sad, stressed and even depressed. Also, there is a medical term called as- The winter blues. It explains that winter season can make some people depressed, particularly the winter holidays during Christmas time. Try yoga, meditation, massage therapy and other relaxation techniques. Regular exercise (workout) can be a game changer here.
Click here to read: Stress can trigger Psoriasis
- Wear soft clothes and use thin layers of clothes- Winter make your skin dry and hence more itchy. When you wear heavy wool fabrics to keep yourself protected from cold weather, these heavy clothes would rub against the psoriasis patches on your skin to irritate it. Also, when you are out in the sun, these heavy clothes would prevent your skin from getting adequate sunlight. Hence, wear soft cotton clothes and use layers of thin clothes instead of wearing thick heavy clothes. It would make it easy for you to remove the outer layers of clothes in the sunlight to get enough sun rays. Otherwise, you may get sweat. This non-evaporated sweat can induce you to rub the skin frequently and further aggravate the problem.
- Keep a check on smoking and alcohol consumption- In general, people drink more alcohol during winter to keep the body warm. Christmas holidays are also an excuse for some people for heavy drinking. Alcohol is diuretic in nature and it can make your skin dry. Also, there is a general tendency that people drink and smoke together. Smoking is one of the most common triggers for psoriasis and various studies are suggesting that alcohol can also trigger your psoriasis. Hence, you need to be extra cautious while drinking alcohol during winters.
Click here to read: Alcohol and Psoriasis
- Keep cold and flu at bay– If you are a frequent victim of cold and flu, then wash your hands frequently, take proper rest, eat healthy food and make every possible effort to stay away from getting infected with cold and flu.
- Taking omega 3 fatty acid supplements– Omega 3 fatty acids are the essential fatty acids which your body can’t synthesize by itself. These healthy fats reduce the skin inflammation and nourish your skin. Take fish oil supplements to nourish your body with essential omega 3 fatty acids. If you are a strict vegetarian, then you can try flaxseed oil supplements also.
Read more: Omega 3 and Psoriasis
- Take Vitamin D supplements– Vitamin D deficiency is often related to psoriasis. Due to less exposure to sunlight during the winter, it is advisable to consume a good quality vitamin d supplement to make up for vitamin D deficiency.
Read more: Vitamin D and Psoriasis
- Speed up your healing treatment- Follow your diet and lifestyle protocol with more discipline. Take your dietary supplements regularly. If you are on medication, then consult with your doctor to optimize the dosage to avoid flare up.
As the weather changes, our psoriasis intensity also varies. During the winter, low humidity, cold winds and higher susceptibility to cold and flu- all these factors can flare up your psoriasis. Make suitable lifestyle changes as mentioned above and consume omega 3 and vitamin D supplements to make peace with psoriasis during the winter.
I hope this article answers some of your questions about how to manage psoriasis in the winter. Do share your feedback in the comment box.