If you have plaque psoriasis, traveling can be enjoyable—if you plan ahead. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it is important to take the proper steps to minimize any potential flare-up of your symptoms so that you can safely enjoy your trip.
Be sure to think ahead and talk with your doctor about having the appropriate supply of any medications you’re taking—both prescription and over-the-counter meds—to cover the time right before, during, and after your trip. Plus, because life never goes as planned, be sure to account for possible travel delays.
Request copies of your prescriptions from your doctor before you leave in case you should need a refill while away from your regular pharmacy. If your medications require refrigeration, research your destination in advance to ensure there will be proper cold storage available. With so many options on where to stay, from hotels to homestays to RV rentals, your needs can be more easily met than you realize!
Lastly, if you plan to fly, always pack your medications in your purse or other carry-on bag so they don’t get lost or damaged en route. Label all of your medications clearly and check state laws to see if prescription labels are necessary since it will go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA). And don’t forget to pack your biologics in an insulated carry bag with cold packs to ensure it makes the trek safely with you!
Load up your suitcase or travel bag with plenty of loose-fitting clothing. Tight clothing can retain heat and create pressure, and the friction can further irritate your skin. Grab your favorite 100% cotton outfits for these long days. Compared to other fabrics, cotton is less likely to irritate the skin or cause overheating. So try to wear lightweight cotton clothing next to your skin when possible, and avoid materials such as wool and synthetic fabrics (other than specialty wicking/workout gear), which may cause your skin not to breathe as easily.
Also, don’t forget to pack a hat when in the sun. Most people take care to wear long sleeves when outdoors for long periods of time, but too often they forget about their face, neck, scalp, and ears. A big hat that offers full sun coverage can help you avoid sunburns in those forgotten areas. Plus, it’s a great way to make your own fashion statement.
Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is one of the simplest and most important ways to safeguard against triggering a flare-up. In some cases, sun exposure can actually help ease plaque psoriasis symptoms in individuals, but, if you get too much sun, a sunburn may also worsen symptoms and can put you at a higher risk of skin cancer later on.1 Be diligent about using sunscreen, applying it thoroughly and often. Avoid sunscreens with heavy scents, which can irritate the skin of people living with psoriasis. Also be sure to moderate your times in the sun.2
Packing insect repellent is particularly important if you plan to be spending a lot of time outdoors in a hot, humid region or plan to go hiking, biking, or horseback riding in a heavily-wooded area. Be careful with insect repellents containing DEET. Products containing this ingredient are the most effective at preventing bites; however, try to spray the repellent on your clothing rather than directly onto your skin, as DEET can irritate some people’s skin.3,4
Infection-causing germs are literally everywhere. While they might seem unavoidable, you can protect yourself from harmful bacteria by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly (it takes a full 20 seconds of lathering up to kill germs), and by packing a secret weapon with you on your travels: hand sanitizer.1 While some people may scoff at hand sanitizer or say that it is for “germaphobes,” it is imperative for those with plaque psoriasis to practice due diligence about getting rid of germs to ward off any infection that may attack the already jeopardized immune system.5
We all know the benefits of moisturizing, but when traveling don’t forget to pack a 3 oz. version for your carry-on luggage in order to abide by airline rules, and keep the larger bottles stored with your checked bags.
Speaking of hydration, be sure to keep yourself well hydrated. Whenever possible, pack a refillable water bottle and keep it with you at all times. Staying hydrated can help you ward off dry skin, particularly if you plan to travel to an area with low humidity.6 If you’re feeling adventurous, look into water-purifying kits for travel in unexpected regions. This can help keep you safely hydrated in uncharted territories!
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