Could Winter Worsen Psoriasis?

Large red, inflamed, flaky rash on the knees knees and elbow In our neck of the woods, we don’t have to endure frigid, freezing temperatures for months on end. We do, however, still have a winter by our own standards, and that can present some issues for the skin. Even healthy skin can become dry and irritated during the winter when the air gets dry and chilly. For people with psoriasis, we have to consider how changes in the environment may trigger painful and embarrassing flare-ups. If you have psoriasis, now is a great time to touch base with a dermatologist for a quick checkup and discussion about how to manage your condition through our current weather shifts. Here, we discuss a few tips.

Psoriasis 101

Psoriasis is a condition in which the immune system functions irregularly. Patients experience some combination of the following:

  • Overdevelopment of skin cells, referred to as plaques.
  • Skin sensitivity, itching, burning, stinging, or otherwise painful sensation in the affected areas.
  • Joint pain, for those with psoriatic arthritis.

Why Psoriasis May Get Worse in the Wintertime

Psoriasis can flare up in certain conditions, and winter provides them! When the air is colder, it gets drier and this can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin more quickly. Cooler air means that we may be spending more time indoors or more time covered up. This inhibits the ability for the skin to receive exposure to natural sunlight, which seems to help manage psoriasis symptoms. Finally, when the body’s immune system is working hard to fight other illnesses, such as the common cold, there are fewer biological resources to manage psoriasis.

Managing Psoriasis in Colder Weather

The best way to get ahead of potential psoriasis flare-ups is to talk with a dermatologist. Dr. Bhandari serves medical patients at our La Casita location on Mondays, and at our Sonterra location Tuesday through Friday. She can sit with you and discuss how your current treatment plan may be working or may need revising to prevent unnecessary skin irritation. Additional tips for managing psoriasis in the wintertime include:

  • Moisturize well. There are several ways to do this. One is to apply an emollient cream daily or even several times a day to prevent cracking. Another is to drink plenty of water. It can be helpful to place a humidifier in rooms that are frequented to offset the dryness caused by indoor heating.
  • Be smart about warming up. When it’s cold out, we just want to stay warm. We’ve learned that we can do this by piling on thick sweaters and coats. Some fabrics and weights can irritate psoriasis. It can be helpful to dress in more layers but lighter, softer clothing. Another way to warm up is from the inside out, which you can do by drinking hot beverages throughout the day.
  • Eat the right foods, or avoid the right foods. Psoriasis flares can be triggered by certain foods. This tip is specific to each person, because there is no rhyme or reason to what may cause symptoms to worsen. Some studies suggest that alcohol and sugary foods are prime suspects, but triggers are truly personal and for each patient to identify through noticing and mindfulness.

Your dermatologic health is in good hands at the Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics. Contact us to schedule your visit.

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Talia Noorily MD

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