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.