Summer means warm weather, long days and leisurely vacations. But for those who struggle with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition which causes itchy, painful scaling of the skin, summer travels require extra planning and preparation.
Terry Patterson was 22 when he travelled to Indonesia and came back with a small patch on his forehead. He wasn’t sure how he got the patch thinking that it was a bite, an infection or an allergic reaction. The patch didn’t go away and within a year spread throughout his body. Patterson consulted a doctor who diagnosed him with psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that affects 1 million Canadians and 80 million people worldwide.
“Psoriasis impacts all aspects of my life, including my travels. When a person visits a foreign land it is natural to feel a little isolated – that feeling is intensified if you have psoriasis because people stare and avoid you because they think you have a contagious disease. ” states Patterson.
Psoriasis is much more than just a skin condition affecting a person’s physical and psychological well-being. A common challenge people with psoriasis face when travelling is the embarrassment of having to interact with others who may think they have a contagious skin disease. Such misconceptions have lead psoriasis sufferers to withdraw from the public space to hide their condition from others.
Patterson eventually found a treatment that helped him alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. Summer vacations are something that Patterson now looks forward to and even feels comfortable lying shirtless on the beach. He encourages those living with psoriasis to keep searching for a treatment that works for them. Patterson offers the following tips for smooth travel and smooth skin:
• Prepare your skin in advance. Soak in the bath tub to help soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin. Pamper and moisturize your skin before the trip.
• Beat the dry air. Confined spaces such as planes, cars and trains have very dry air which can leave your skin dry, itchy and dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and keep your skin moisturized with creams and ointments to reduce itching and prevent psoriasis flare-ups.
• Wear light fabrics and colours. Dress comfortably by wearing light fabrics such as cotton and avoid fitted clothing that doesn’t let your skin breath. Wearing light colours also helps hide flaked-off skin.
• Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from getting sunburned which can cause psoriasis flare-ups. Make sure to pack a sunscreen that works for your skin.
• Stick with your skin-care routine. Make sure to keep up your daily skin care.
Lastly, don’t let the appearance of your skin spoil your trip. Focus on the positives, spending time with your family and friends in a beautiful place. Relax and de-stress, and your vacation might not only be better, your skin might improve too.