Living with Psoriasis: Travel Tips

by Joni Kazantzis Patient Expert

While any traveler can sometimes experience the unexpected, traveling can present additional challenges for people with psoriasis. A bit of advance planning -- with your psoriasis medications, for example -- can help ensure a more comfortable journey and getaway. Whether you're traveling by road or by air, here are a few helpful tips. Bon voyage!

Doctor typing on a laptop and a stethoscope.

Consult with your doctor

If you have a chronic skin condition like psoriasis, consult your dermatologist before planning your trip. Be sure all prescriptions are up-to-date, and bring written copies with you. If you use an injectable biologic, get a doctor's note, and find out about any restrictions that may cause a delay at airport security or borders. Request a written action plan from your doctor -- in case you need emergency treatment -- and make sure to bring enough medicine.

Woman checking flight times while wearing a carry on backpack.

Packing your carry-on

Checked luggage may or may not show up in baggage claim... Just in case, pack a few days' worth of psoriasis medications in your carry-on. It's especially important to stay hydrated during travel -- the air can be extra dry and irritating to the skin -- so carry a water bottle you can refill. Lastly, bring some healthy, anti-inflammatory snacks such as nuts -- which are filling, travel well, and are good for you.

Traveler exploring ruins with a camera.

Packing everything else

While your clothing choices will be determined by where you're going and what you're doing, layers of loose, soft, breathable fabrics (cotton/silk) tend to work for most situations. Lighter colors reduce the appearance of flakes. Although hotels often supply lotions and shampoos, they may wreak havoc on your skin, so it's best to pack products you use regularly. Sunburn and bug bites can worsen psoriasis, so be sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray.

Stretching near the ocean.

Eliminate stress

Even vacations can be stressful -- and stress is a commmon psoriasis trigger. It's important to stay organized and calm. Create a travel checklist -- including clothing, toiletries, medications, and travel documents to pack. Include a section for "life-logistics" (child/pet care intructions, mail pick-up, etc.). Take time for a stress-reducing activity such as yoga or meditation, and get a good night's sleep before setting off.

Woman looking at tomatoes at an outdoor market.

Maintain your diet

Cheating on your healthy diet seems just about mandatory on vacation, but not every meal needs to be a cheat meal. Take advantage of fresh, local cuisine wherever you are -- especially fruits and vegetables. But be cautious when trying new foods, you may not be sure how your skin will react. Make sure to stay hydrated and drink enough clean water. Infections can increase your risk for psoriasis flares -- especially if you take biologics.

Man trail hiking in the forest.

Stick to your routine...

as much as possible. If you exercise regularly at home, try working out "like a local." Biking, swimming, hiking, and even shopping can provide cardio exercise. Most hotels offer fitness centers, and there are a number of workouts you can stream online to your laptop or phone. It's easy to forget to take medications and supplements when you're on vacation, so set an alarm or place them next to your toothbrush for a visual reminder.

Beach umbrella and chairs near the ocean.

Choose the right time to travel

For many people with psoriasis, it's beneficial to travel in the spring or summer (or to a sunny-all-year location), as the UV light from the sun often helps to soothe the skin and reduce symptoms.

Man pumping lotion onto his hand.

Keep your skin hydrated

The air on planes -- as well as on other forms of mass transit -- tends to be very dry, which can irritate chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. Be sure to moisturize your skin before, during (if necessary), and after your flight and drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated.

Man relaxing in a hammock.

Wear comfortable clothing

It's important to wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing while traveling so that it will not rub against your skin and worsen psoriasis symptoms. Soft cotton is a material that works well for many people with psoriasis.

Joni Kazantzis
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Joni Kazantzis