Travelling is always a challenge for people with psoriasis; whether it is a vacation trip or a business trip. At the comfort of your home, it is comparatively easy to follow the psoriasis healing protocol- restricted, healthy diet; proper sleep; a smooth daily routine and your regular routine of exercise, yoga, meditation (whatever you like). Also, you barely miss your daily dose of dietary supplements and you can apply your favorite natural moisturizer whenever you want. But, travelling is bound to disturb your daily routine and related things- diet, sleep and exercise routine. Also, it is so easy to miss out on dietary supplements when travelling and many times, you just ignore the need of moisturizing your body regularly.
Sometimes, travelling to different places bring a sudden change in weather which can take a toll on your skin- if the spot is too hot and sunny or it is too cold and dry- your psoriasis can behave violently to such a surprise weather change.
To make the things worse, travel itself is quite stressful- packing for the trip, last minute rush, long queues, unfamiliar places, meeting new people, meeting the business targets- all these things make your skin so vulnerable.
So, what to do?
Drop the vacation plans? No, not at all! Vacation trips promotes peace of mind, boosts confidence and improves your social life. Studies prove that travel can improve your overall health.
On the other hand, if it is a business trip, then saying NO is just not an option.
So, let’s choose the middle way. In this post, we would discuss some clever ways to ensure a stress-free, flare-free trip.
- Plan your trip– Proper planning can save you from missing on the stocks of your topicals (shampoo, moisturizer and oil), dietary supplements (Omega 3, probiotics, vitamin D3, glutamine and others) and herbal laxatives (if constipation is an issue for you). Many times, your brand of moisturizer, shampoo or dietary supplement will not be available at the travel spot. So, don’t take risk and maintain enough inventory of your stuffs in advance. Keep all the above mentioned stuffs in your carry-on bag so that even if the luggage gets lost, your vital psoriasis aids remains with you. Also, proper planning would avoid the chances of last minute rush or getting anxious. If you are travelling by air and carrying any injectable or liquid medicines, better to keep the doctor’s prescription (or note) along for smooth passage through the security checks. Also, it would help in case of any emergency during the trip. If you have the liberty of choosing travel time, give priority to summer and spring over autumn and winter because sunny and humid weather is better than cold and dry environment for majority of psoriatic people. Advanced planning would also help you to decide if you need a travel insurance. If you are doubtful that you may need some medical attention during the trip, opt for a travel insurance that covers medical expenses.
Before taking off for the trip, ensure that your skin is in the best possible condition. It would reduce the risk of flare up when you would be exposed to so many unexpected sudden changes during the trip.
- Proper clothing– Inquire about the weather of your travel spot and choose clothes accordingly. Always opt for soft clothes made from natural materials such as cotton, rayon and silk- these fibers have better sweat adsorbing properties that allows your skin to breathe. Lesser accumulation of sweat means less itching and irritation. Also, these soft clothes wouldn’t rub again the skin lesions harshly. Even if it is Winter, wear multiple layers of soft, thin cotton garments so that you can easily remove the outer layers of garments if you feel too sweaty or just need some sunshine. Heavy wool clothing would rub the psoriasis lesions harshly and more frequently; also, they can cause overheating of skin when the sun is at its peak. If you got scalp psoriasis, try to wear light colored tops so that the psoriasis flakes dropping on your clothes remain less noticeable.
- Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize some more– Sitting in the airplane for long hours can dry your skin because the air inside closed cabin is quite dry. Hence, during a long haul flight, it is better to moisturize before boarding the flight, during the flight and after the flight. Also, drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized from within. The same applied to long journeys via trains and buses.
- Avoiding the risk of infection– If you have consumed immunosuppressants like methotrexate in the past, then you are at a higher risk of infection. So, make sure to stay away from any sort of infection by adopting proper hygiene practices- avoid drinking local (non-filtered) water, wash your hands frequently, use a hand sanitizer if possible, take proper rest, drink a lot of clean water and avoid unhealthy food. To avoid insect bites, use a good quality herbal bug spray. Lemon-ginger tea is a wonderful and easy way to boost your immunity- all the ingredients are readily available, easy to make and taste yummy. Improved digestion and liver detox are other benefits of lemon-ginger tea.
- Stay hydrated– Carry a water bottle all through your travel to make sure that you drink enough water. It saves your skin from dryness, promotes body detox and relieves constipation. Also, it keeps you away from poor eating habits by suppressing your appetite. At least 10 to 12 cups of clean drinking water per day should be your target.
- Pack some travel-friendly snacks– Don’t forget to pack some anti-inflammatory, healthy snacks to satisfy the hunger cravings during the travel- almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts to name a few.
- Choose the right hotel/ accommodation– Holistic healing of psoriasis includes regular physical workout and weekly soaking baths with Dead Sea salt (or Epsom salt) which are likely to be missed during the trip if you don’t choose a hotel that offers gym and bathtub facilities. If you don’t have access to a gym, try other fun activities like cycling, swimming, hiking or even shopping to get some cardio exercise. Don’t forget to moisturize your body after swimming.
- Proper rest– Proper sleep is important. Manage your schedule in such a way that you have a sound sleep of 6-8 hours. Disturbed sleep habits have a deteriorating effect on auto-immune disorders including psoriasis.
- Sunlight is good for your skin (in limited amounts) – For most of the people, a little bit of sunlight relieves psoriasis symptoms. But, avoid overdo as it can cause sunburn or irritate our psoriasis. If your travel requires prolonged exposure to sunlight, then use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.
- Keep moving– If you are dealing with psoriatic arthritis, then sitting in the same position during long haul flights or train journeys can stiff your joints. So, get up and walk around or stretch your body after every few hours to relieve the symptoms. At the same time, over movement of joints due to stairs climbing or hiking or walking too much can also intensify the arthritis pain. Hence, try to maintain a balance and avoid joint pain and inflammation.
- Avoid constipation– Constipation is one of the worst triggers for psoriasis. According to Dr John Pagano, the author of the book Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative, avoid constipation at any cost to make peace with psoriasis. It worsens leaky gut; obstructs the elimination of body toxins; increases inflammation and affects the immune system. Frequent travels, especially the overnight journeys can worsen constipation. If it is the case with you, always keep a good, herbal laxative in your travel bag.
- Don’t overdo Alcohol– For many people, travel and alcohol go hand-in-hand. As a psoriatic person, you don’t have this liberty. Alcohol causes skin dryness; makes your body acidic; damages liver; ruins gut health and increases leaky gut. Hence, don’t go beyond a few drinks, that too occasionally. Regular alcohol consumption can ruin all your hard work and flare your psoriasis like anything.
- Keep stress at bay– As explained already, do advance planning. Make a checklist- travel documents, other important documents, psoriasis healing stuffs, other medications, clothing, snacks- pack everything well and reach the boarding place- airport, railway station or bus terminal- well in time. Enjoy some good music, read some books and have proper rest to enjoy stress-free trip. Also, you can try various stress management techniques like deep breathing, yoga and meditation as per your comfort.
- Diet is still the king– Changing location doesn’t change the rules of psoriasis healing. All the above mentioned steps would do little if you cheat on diet rules too frequently. It is quite understandable that you can’t follow the diet rules religiously while on the wheels, but, it is still not impossible to eat healthy- you just need some more discipline and common sense.
Psoriasis doesn’t stop you from travelling. Just listen to your body, keep the above things in mind and enjoy an eventful trip.