Fire up the furnace and unpack your parka—winter is here. And for many people with psoriasis, so is an increase in bothersome symptoms. The dry air in heated homes and offices can cause itching. Heavy jackets and scratchy sweaters can lead to skin irritation. And shorter days mean less exposure to the sun’s beneficial rays. But don’t despair. These tips can help you weather the winter in comfort.
1. Humidify indoor air
Heated indoor air can be downright Sahara-like. The low humidity can lead to dry, itchy skin. And scratching, in turn, can make your psoriasis worse or even bring on new lesions. Using a humidifier at home and work puts moisture back in the air, helping prevent such problems.
2. Moisturize to winterize
Slathering on moisturizer is another way to combat dry, itchy skin, and it also helps reduce scaling and inflammation. Lay it on thick, especially on areas affected by psoriasis. Many people apply a lotion in the morning and a thicker cream or ointment at night. After a bath or shower, gently pat your skin dry, then smooth on moisturizer while your skin is still damp.
3. Layer cotton clothing
That puffy down parka or heavy wool sweater may seem cozy—until it aggravates your psoriasis. You’ll be more comfortable if you choose cotton clothing and dress in light layers. If you really want to wear a favorite sweater or jacket, put a soft cotton T-shirt underneath.
4. Soak up some rays
The ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight can penetrate the skin and suppress the processes that set off psoriasis. As a result, there’s less scaling and inflammation. Many people find that short, nonburning exposures to sunlight clear up or improve their psoriasis in summer. But in winter, getting enough sun may not be practical. In such cases, treatment with artificial UV light is often a good alternative. Ask your doctor if this type of treatment is right for you.