Psoriasis is a challenging skin condition to live with, and the winter presents a unique set of challenges. This month, dermatologists will chime in with advice on how to effectively manage your psoriasis through the cold and dry winters.
Psoriasis is a relatively common autoimmune disease that can present some problems in a patient’s day-to-day life. It is a chronic condition that requires management. It can also behave in unpredictable ways, worsening and clearing in response to factors like weather, stress, or other factors like a physical injury.
What are some of the challenges during the winter?
Most Canadian winters are dry and cold. It’s tempting to stay warm inside during the winter months in environments that are air-conditioned—another factor that leads to dryness in the skin. Plaques are more likely to flare, and unaffected skin also becomes more sensitive to drying, redness, and irritation.
UV exposure helps reduce the rapid growth of skin cells, which causes plaques in psoriasis. As people are indoors more often and cover up with thick clothing, they are exposed to much less sunlight during the winter.
Psoriasis can also be affected by other factors like stress, illness, or alcohol consumption. During the holidays, these can become more likely, and they can affect your skin.
What can I do about managing my psoriasis?
Psoriasis management remains the same as usual, but more care needs to be taken to respond faster to flares, and to keep the skin as hydrated as possible. We also recommend that you treat flares aggressively using medication to control the symptoms earlier rather than later.
Regular use of moisturizers becomes more critical during the winter months as the cold, and dry air saps water from the skin faster. Moisturizers should be used all year long, but especially so during the winter. The best timing to moisturize is immediately after a shower or bath. Pat your skin dry with a towel instead of drying off, and apply the moisturizer while your skin is still moist.
Manage flares as early as possible. Dryness, lack of sunlight, and seasonal flu are some of the problems that can conspire to make flares more likely than normal. Apply appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor to manage flares.