Editor's Note: This article was originally written by patient expert Kristin Donahue.
Last June, I traveled to Iceland to visit the Blue Lagoon's psoriasis skin clinic. The Clinic, as it's called, is a popular treatment center for Europeans living with psoriasis. While I was visiting, there were Germans, a Frenchman, and a Dutch family whose 10-year-old daughter had psoriasis. There are also day-treatments outpatient options for the locals - and a lot of people use it. (I am so jealous that something like this doesn't exist in the Pacific Northwest.) For more information about balneotherapy as treatment for psoriasis, see my article published last year in Psoriasis Advance.
(A bright June morning at the Blue Lagoon.)
Disclosure: I love Iceland, and I love the Blue Lagoon. I've been to Iceland three times in the last year-and-a-half for various work-related reasons, and I have to say of all of the places I've lived and visited where people are described as nice, Iceland blows them out of the water (sorry, Kiwis). And it isn't really even niceness that I'm talking about, it is a deep kindness and goodness to do right by others. Icelanders are not garrulous people, they won't chat you up, or sell you on anything, but they are good and reliable and friendly people.
Since I didn't have weeks to spend at the Blue Lagoon Clinic, they suggested that I do the intensive treatment rather than their standard treatment. The intensive treatment includes an additional massage of mineral-rich serum into the skin and an occlusive wrap. It also includes an additional 60-minute water massage by this wonderful woman named Elsa. (I've never been so relaxed in my life. I'm going to go back to Iceland just to see Elsa and get a floating massage in the lagoon.)
(The Clinic's lagoon.)
If you're thinking of traveling to the Blue Lagoon for treatment, here's what to expect:
Arrival: The airport is 20 minutes from the Clinic. There are large buses that shuttle travelers constantly between Reykjavik and the airport, the Blue Lagoon is a stop along the way. If you're staying at the Clinic, and most in-patients do, then they arrange for your transportation to and from the airport.
6:30am -- Breakfast is served until 9am. Expect a continental breakfast with a coffee and tea. One of the highlights of my trip was the espresso machine. It was a little embarrassing how much I loved it.
8:00am - First floating session. The Clinic lagoon opens at 8am. The medical staff at the Blue Lagoon suggests floating for 45minutes to 1 hour per session. There are buckets of the mineral-rich white silica to slather on yourself during your float. Floating in the Clinic lagoon is one of the most relaxing experiences of my life. Rain, crazy winds, or shine, it is delightful.
9:00am -- On your first day, you'll meet the nurse, Esther, and have your initial consultation with the dermatologist.
9:00 - 11:00am - In the remaining morning hours you'll have your light treatment (narrowband UVB) -- and your wrap and occlusion, if doing the intensive treatment.
In the remaining hours of the day, you work in lunch, an afternoon soak, and an evening soak. On quiet days, I'd head over to the big lagoon to tourist watch, and then I'd regret my choice and miss the tranquility of the Clinic's lagoon.
The small fishing town of Grindavik is just a 20-minute walk away. There are paths and trails weaving around the lagoon that will take you up Mt. Thorbjorn or out to sea. It is beautiful land, but can be terribly windy.
( A hiking path outside of the Clinic>)
For afternoons that one wants more adventure, Reykjavik is an easy 40-minute bus ride away. Busses stop directly outside the Clinic's doors and drop you at the main bus terminal in town. It's an easy walk to downtown or you can catch another bus.
The Blue Lagoon Clinic is not inexpensive, if it was cheaper, then I'd probably try to go once a year in the winter when my psoriasis flares. They do work with US patients and getting light treatments reimbursed - if one's insurance covers it.
(The main lagoon that is a popular tourist destination.)
For those looking for a relaxing "treatment vacation", then I highly recommend it. For me, it was a spiritual experience, a resetting of how I live with this disease, and an opportunity to talk to others who understand what it means to live with psoriasis.