Angela Finlay is a freelance health writer who believes that variety is not only the spice of life, but essential for happiness and longevity. As an avid runner, rock climber, artist, and vegetarian cook, her passion for health and vitality stretches into each corner of her life. You can find more of Angela’s writing on NewLifeOutlook|Psoriasis.
Avoiding Spring Psoriasis Flare-Ups
Winter can be disastrous for the skin, so spring spells relief for many psoriasis sufferers. More humidity in the air means it’s easier to stay moisturized, and longer stretches of sunshine are natural boosts to your phototherapy routine.
But despite the warm weather, spring isn’t perfect, and some people will struggle with a new set of challenges to their routine. Your itchy, inflamed skin and joints might need some extra care as the seasons shift, so take a few precautions to prevent flare-ups during spring.
Why Any Season Change Can Be a Challenge
It’s natural to dread the cold, but the transition to warm weather can be just as volatile when your system is sensitive to change. Keep in mind how a season change can complicate your skin care and your immune response:
Plant and animal allergies plague millions of people, and different seasons bring different enemies. Spring is synonymous with pollen, but look out for mold, too — it can hide in decaying leaves and other yard waste leftover from last fall.
If you’re getting ready for a big spring clean, guard against mold and dust. Wear a simple facemask when you’re dusting, digging through boxes, or airing out the house, and throw on long gloves for yard work. No matter the season, the fewer irritants that come into contact with your skin, the less likely it is you’ll suffer a flare-up.
An overload of stress is a great way to trigger a psoriasis flare, and spring can be more stressful than it at first appears. Tax time, holiday planning, the end of the school year, and a host of other changes can stretch out your attention and your patience.
When the seasons change, take the opportunity to reset your routine and commit to more downtime. Giving yourself the space and opportunity to physically and emotionally regroup will help you keep your stress at a manageable level.
Spring is wet and warm in many regions — but not consistently. If you live somewhere that enjoys a rapid shift to summer, but a late spring snowfall isn’t out of the question, you might find that your skin acts up at the two major transitions each year.
Another problem with rainy, windy, and generally uncomfortable spring (or fall) weather is that it can interfere with your exercise routine. If you find that you’re getting out less often, find a way to make up for that with indoor activity, or perhaps some new raingear. Exercise is incredibly important for stress management, and it will ward off some psoriasis-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Recognize and Overcome Spring Problems
Each psoriasis sufferer has an individual set of triggers, challenges, and sensitivities, but there are some general changes most people can make to protect and improve their skin through the springtime. As usual, it will be a combination of good diet, smart precautions, and the right self-care.
Monitor Your Diet
Menus tend to change with the seasons, and food allergies can be as bothersome as seasonal allergies. Eating fresh and seasonally is a good move for your health, but make sure you’re tracking any major changes in your daily diet against changes in your psoriasis symptoms.
Spring is a season for socializing, but try to go easy on the booze when warm weather beckons you to patios and backyard barbecues. Alcohol encourage inflammation, and more inflammation in the body can translate to more psoriasis symptoms. For those who have a sensitivity to gluten, beer can be especially bad.
Beware of Travel Pitfalls
With spring and summer comes travel, and a holiday can do wonders for both your stress and energy levels. On the other hand, new surroundings can interfere with your best intentions — especially when it comes to bugs and plants.
Scratches, bites, and natural irritants like poison ivy or stinging nettle can be particularly uncomfortable for psoriasis sufferers, and there’s a greater likelihood that complications will develop when skin is already prone to problems. It’s vital that you cover your skin in wooded areas, and use insect repellent with DEET.
Use the Sun Wisely
The sun can be your friend, especially if you’ve responded well to phototherapy in a clinical setting, but UV light can be as damaging as it is helpful. As the sun intensifies and you spend more time outdoors, remember to use SPF sunscreen on any areas not affected by psoriasis.
Even for patches of plaques and scaly skin that typically respond well to UV light, you have to be careful about overexposure: too much UV light will lead to sunburn and can trigger a psoriasis flare-up. Your best bet is to gradually build up your time in the sun, starting with five-minute stretches, and perhaps popping out for 10 minutes at a time once you know how your skin will respond.
Manage Your Stress With New Habits and Hobbies
Now is a fantastic time to take on something new, whether it’s a satisfying project, energizing activity, or a fresh and challenging pastime. A morning yoga routine is a smart way to energize, and there’s never a better time to get into (or expand) a gardening hobby than the springtime.
Whatever you do choose, commit to it for the whole season: it takes about a month to set a new habit, and if you decide you’re really not into it after three months, at least you’ll know you gave it a fair shot. On the other hand, you might discover a new passion or a talent that brings an exciting new opportunity!