Psoriasis: a Q&A with a dermatologist/|Dr Dray
Tips for Traveling with Psoriasis
Before You Go
When I pack for a trip, I review my daily routines to make sure that I’ve got everything I’ll need. In the morning, for instance, I use a topical medication, take a pill, and apply moisturizers — so all those items go on my packing list.
Packing prescription medication (and enough of it) is a top priority. Sure, you can pick up over-the-counter items on the road, but it’s harder to replace prescribed medication. Be sure to get prescriptions refilled in advance, and ask your doctor and insurance provider what to do if you need medication when you’re away from home.
Over time, I’ve collected travel-sized containers and samples of moisturizers and such that I set aside for future trips. I keep them in an easy-to-pack pouch. One time when I had to travel for a conference, I forgot to take along a prescription topical drug. Fortunately, I already had some tubes of that medication in my backpack.
I used to worry about overpacking, and I still don’t like lugging a big suitcase for a short trip. But it’s important that you pack whatever you need to take care of your skin and feel comfortable.
During the Trip
Once a trip starts, whether it’s for business or pleasure, it’s easy to let your health maintenance routines slip. Keep reminding yourself that you still have to manage your health.
When I was growing up, family outings often meant trying to do and see as much as possible. That can lead to stress, which can trigger psoriasis flare-ups.
When I plan a vacation, I schedule late starts and rest breaks whenever possible. Getting to the airport early minimizes anxiety. I also practice mindfulness, prayer, and deep breathing if I need to calm down. Making time for exercise can relieve a lot of stress. Most hotels have a gym, so there’s no excuse.
Let people know if your condition requires any special accommodations. When I’m staying at a hotel, I’ll ask if they use cleaning products or fragrances that might irritate my skin. If you’re staying with friends, it can be awkward making special requests about things like hypoallergenic laundry detergent, but I’ve found most people understand once I explain my situation.
When I travel by plane, the dry air in the cabin can dry out and irritate my skin. I bring a small container of moisturizer with me, and I hydrate as much as possible. Moisturizing your skin is also important when you’re traveling to hot, dry climates.
Remember that psoriasis can be aggravated by injuries to the skin, such as sunburns and bugbites. I make it a point to apply sunscreen and use insect repellent.
Warm-weather vacations usually mean exposing more skin. I remember taking a cruise to the Panama Canal when my psoriasis was especially bad. Over 90 percent of my skin was covered in lesions. It took courage, but I still went out on the deck to relax and catch some rays. I’ve learned to ignore people who stare. I’m prepared to explain what psoriasis is and that it’s not contagious, if they ask.
I usually have mixed feelings when a trip ends. I’m glad to be home, where I can sleep in my own bed and resume my daily routines. At the same time, I miss the adventure of traveling. After a trip, I might also need follow-up care for my skin.
The last time I was away for a few days, my skin didn’t fare so well. Despite my best intentions and planning, something triggered a flare. Once I got back, I had to check in with my doctor, review my skin-care regimen, and ease myself back into daily duties.
Traveling is a great way to experience different places and cultures, meet new people, and reconnect with old friends. The memories I take from these trips make the extra effort to care for my psoriasis worth it.
For specific tips on travel abroad, read International Travel With Psoriasis. If you’d like to read more about my experiences living with psoriasis, check out my blogs and my website.
Video: PSORIASIS TREATMENT BEGINS
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