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How to Manage Psoriasis While Traveling

Searching for accommodation, creating itinerary, filing for leave vacation, and setting a budget are some of the principal concerns of most people (myself included) when planning to travel. In my case, add which outfits to bring on that list. These matters when piled up can be overwhelming, but pale in comparison when faced by a person with medical condition like psoriasis. How can a person with psoriasis  prepare for travel? Is it even possible for them to travel given their delicate condition? These are some of my nagging questions when I attended the presscon of Psoriasis Philippines (PsorPhil) and LEO FarmaTM last October during the observance of the National Psoriasis Week. In an open forum, the guest speakers (Josef de Guzman, PsorPhil‘s president; Dr. Ma. Lorna Fernandez-Frez, MD; Dr. Irene Gardiner, MD) offered some tips on how to manage psoriasis while traveling.




But first, what is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that gives a patient reddish plaque on the skin that is covered with loose, silver-colored scales. The lesions are itchy and painful most of the time. This happens because the skin cells multiply faster than normal.

  • Is it contagious? No, psoriasis is a non-communicable disease.
  • Is this something that can be inherited? Yes, aside from environmental factors, studies show that psoriasis may be genetic.
  • Can it be cured? Unfortunately, no, but diet and some medication can help patients manage it.

Tips for Traveling

Given their condition, I learned that most people suffering from psoriasis are reluctant to travel. Fear of being judged and flare ups are only some of their concerns. But with proper planning and preparation traveling is not impossible. If you have psoriasis and is looking to the possibility of traveling, here are some tips from the experts on how you can do it:

Inform your doctor that you are traveling

According to Josef, once you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis, you will have it for the rest of your life. Hence, patients need to see their doctor on a regular basis. And since you are traveling, ensure to inform your doctor beforehand that you are going away (specify where) and for how long. This way, your doctor can give the best advice on what you should or should not do during your travel to minimize the possibility of flare ups, or to help you manage the symptoms once they start to appear. Your doctor may also able to connect you with a doctor in the place that you are visiting.  

Research about the place you are going

Warm climate is said to be kinder to psoriasis patients; places that are cold or low humidity however is not. You may opt to pick places where the climate is unlikely to trigger your symptoms, but if you have to travel to a cold place you can manage by staying hydrated at all times. Make sure to always moisturize your skin to prevent drying and chafing.

If you are flying abroad, check airport regulations on bringing medications to prevent the chance of being offloaded or questioned because of your meds.

Get enough sleep

Stress is one of the triggers of flare ups and when you don’t have enough sleep, you are more likely to feel stressed during your travel. So make you sure you always have enough zzs before and during your trip.

Get flu shots

Some psoriasis medication suppresses the immune system, hence, patients become more prone to infection. Joel Gelfand, MD (director of the Dermatology Phototherapy Treatment Center at the University of Pennsylvania) recommends getting a flu shot, frequent hand washing, and bringing hand sanitizer to help keep the germs at bay.

Choose what you eat

Although there is no definite evidence that correlates psoriasis to diet, some psoriasis patients claim that food or drinks trigger or lessen their symptoms. But before you do anything about your diet, it’s best to consult your doctor.

During your trip, as much as possible, choose food that are baked, broiled, or steamed. Avoid or at least limit the amount of processed food that you eat. It is advisable that you give up alcohol, but if you can’t, at least drink moderately. Psoriasis.org recommends no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two for men.

Consult Quality CareTM website

There is a website specifically made to provide free support service to psoriasis patients called, Quality CareTM. It is developed by LEO Pharma, a research-based pharmaceutical company from Denmark. The website is filled with articles containing valuable information on handling symptoms, managing treatment, living, and understanding psoriasis. You can check this website for some useful tips. 

Do not skip your medication

Traveling can be such an exhilarating experience that we tend to forget a lot of things. If you have psoriasis though, forgetting to take your meds may lead to some serious consequences. So use an alarm if need be to make sure that you’re always on track when taking your meds.

It may also help to download MyPso App, a mobile app developed by LEO PharmaTM. Among the benefits of using this app are the following:

  • Track a range of symptoms
  • Create a picture gallery of your skin progress
  • Identify and map triggers against flare-ups
  • Illustrate progress with treatment
  • Compare results with others in the user-community
  • Generate a report to share with a healthcare professional

The app is free and is now available on iTunes and Google Play. It is set to launch in the Philippines this November.


 

PsorPhil is an online support group with a mission to advocate for Filipinos with psoriasis. It was founded in 2005 by a psoriasis patient, Josef De Guzman. The organization recently observed the National Psoriasis Week, which included various events and activities, such as presscon, photo exhibit, fun-walk, among others. Want to become a #PSORpporter and learn more about psoriasis? Visit and Like PsorPhil’s facebook page on this link.

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Arni
    November 25, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    Great post. I agree with all of your tips. I have had mild psoriasis since I was in college. I went to a naturopathic and homeopathic doctor in Manila for a special diet and treatment. I have had it under control for years but occasional flare ups do occur whenever I am extremely stressed. I got into meditation to control the stress a bit but I believe diet and topical medication play a big role in managing psoriasis. The biggest flare up I had was when I traveled to France during the colder months, especially when I lived there for 4 months last year. I went to a pharmacy and bought Ducray Kertyol P.S.O. shampoo which I found to be very effective. I tried other shampoos but Ducray felt mild and more gentle to use. I remember being uneasy going around and it gets uncomfortable having flakes and scaly skin patches.

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      November 25, 2016 at 2:49 PM

      I didn’t know you are also a psoriasis warrior Arni. Thanks so much for sharing your story and for leaving some more tips based on your experience. You are one great proof that people with psoriasis can definitely travel. I hope people will find inspiration from this post and also from psoriasis warriors such as yourself.

  • Reply
    Trisha Velarmino
    November 24, 2016 at 6:37 AM

    This is a very helpful post because based on studies Psoriasis affects nearly 3 percent of the world’s population. That’s million and million of people who are suffering every day.

    People with psoriasis are having a hard time to travel mainly because they have a very strong emotional reactions to having it., such as embarrassment, anger or sadness.

    I hope that we could spread more awareness about this condition. Let’s Help to get rid of myths about psoriasis by educating the public that it is not contagious.

  • Reply
    Cai Dominguez
    November 23, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    “I learned that most people suffering from psoriasis are reluctant to travel. Fear of being judged and flare ups are only some of their concerns” This is true Marge. Remember when I travel with my friend to Batangas, she have Psoriasis. The first she told me when we are about to swim was “Nakakahiya mag swimming, baka umalis sila pag nag swimming ako” I can feel the fear and pain from her voice and I encouraged her to act naturally. Its okay. You are not contagious.

  • Reply
    JM
    November 22, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    I never knew much about psoriasis before aside from seeing too much adverts about it on how to cure it. But it did not call much of my attention because of those not so pleasing photos. Anyway, i am glad to learn more about it from your post and how to manage it. This is surely helpful for those who have it.

  • Reply
    Gel
    November 22, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    Hi Marge, thankyou for sharing these. There have been so many travel guides, itineraries and what-have-yous on the internet but it is rare that we get to stumble upon articles like this (which I consider as gems) because it focuses on a focused traveler–people with psoriasis. Aside from this disease, it is also important to have posts related to other conditions to help our fellow travelers who have the illness.

  • Reply
    Rashmi and Chalukya
    November 22, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    I had not heard about Psoriasis before but reading through your post it does sound like something crucial which needs proper care and treatment. You have some great tips here which will definitely help someone who has been avoiding travel for this skin condition.

  • Reply
    Indrani
    November 22, 2016 at 3:13 AM

    Traveling with illness can be difficult indeed.
    For psoriasis I have known lemon juice helps keep itching away.
    Squeeze half a lemon to a glass of water and have it without mixing sugar or salt.

  • Reply
    neha
    November 22, 2016 at 1:11 AM

    I didn’t know about this disease. It always feels sad to learn how some people are restricted from enjoying something like travel due to factors totally out of their control. Your tips are really going to help some people out there. Glad that you compiled them

  • Reply
    Vicki Louise
    November 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM

    Great tips here – traveling with any illness/condition can be tough and it’s great there is a resource like this to encourage people to travel despite their illness.

  • Reply
    Zwitsy
    November 20, 2016 at 10:45 PM

    Good guide here. This is very much helpful particularly for those experiencing psoriasis. At least now, patients can now travel whenever and wherever they want. This sure can save someone who experiencing it to not feel ashamed of fulfilling his or her bucket list in visiting other places.

  • Reply
    Sabine - SofarsoSabine
    November 20, 2016 at 5:48 PM

    Great tips for people that have psoriasis and need to travel. I don’t have experience with this illness. I hope the people that do, will have some benefits from reading this article. I think it’s very important not to feel ashamed or judged. You’re more than the illness, you HAVE the illness, but you’re still a great person. No one chose to get this! Great article to help out!

  • Reply
    Mohit Agarwal
    November 20, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    thanks for the share…it’s really great to put efforts for others…

  • Reply
    erica
    November 20, 2016 at 3:44 AM

    People with psoriasis are prone to mistreatment and they have to deal with this prolly for d rest of thir lives. If dey are reluctant to travel due to their condition, I hope they see your pointers. You just gave the ultimate travel tips!

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