Doctor’s Orders: Your Psoriasis Needs a Vacay

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Work is brutal. School is overwhelming. Kids are climbing the walls. And your skin isn't having any of it. No surprise there: Stress is a common trigger for psoriasis, says Lev Pavlovsky, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at Rabin Medical Center in Israel. Of course, there are lots of ways you can manage stress, but taking a break from the rigamarole of your day-to-day is probably the most fun. So why not start there? Let's go!

Go on a Culinary Adventure

Taking time away from your regular routine to focus on resetting your diet can make you feel better overall (and you might even lose a few pounds). “In one study, the response of plaque psoriasis to systemic treatment was reduced in overweight patients compared with normal-weight patients,” says Luigi Naldi, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the Academic Research Centre at the University of Milan in Italy. In other words, “Even a limited weight loss could help increase the efficacy of treatment.”

Make it Happen: Choose a destination where jumpstarting a healthier routine is the point, like Miraval Resort in Arizona that offers a class in the art of conscious and healthy cooking.

Hit the Trails

Not only has exercise been linked to reducing inflammation, but being active outdoors can have major benefits on your mood. So it makes sense to try to incorporate some extra activity into your getaway (in between the lounging, of course!). When you're looking for places to bust a move, seek out wider trails designed for bikes, wheelchairs, and strollers. The extra space means less opportunity for branches and ivies from injuring your skin. Hiking in the wildnerness? Go for long sleeves and pants.

Make it Happen: Check out Rock Creek Trails outside of Washington, D.C., or explore the Windy City on the Chicago Lakefront Trail.

Head to the Beach

If all it takes to get you in zen mode is surf and sand, your psoriasis is in luck. Ultravioletlight from the sun slows the rapid skin growth that goes along with psoriasis, says Tamy Buckel, M.D. a dermatologist in Chestertown, MD. Plus, ocean water has significantly higher amounts of sodium and chloride, which can naturally smooth psoriasis skin. Just be sure to limit unprotected sun exposure to brief 15-minute bursts that do not cause pinkness or a burn, and always slather on sunscreen on areas that are often exposed to the sun such as the face, neck and chest.

Make it Happen: Feeling uncomfortable about spending a week in your bathing suit? Try Kitty Hawk Beach, part of the outer banks of North Carolina, where you will find a little more seclusion, especially in the off-season.

Explore a New City

It may seem impossible to choose a psoriasis-friendly vacation activity that everyone can enjoy if you’re traveling with your entire family. However, if you choose a new city to explore, you can find a little of everything, including touring Broadway shows (which, by the way, are available in more than 240 cities across the U.S.), one-of-a-kind museums, and parks galore. Talk about stress-free!

Make it Happen: Cincinnati is an under-the-radar city that hosts a variety of off-Broadway shows each year. Other must-dos: Stop by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, catch the Reds at the Great American Ball Park, and even swing by the American Sign Museum.

Indulge at a Spa Retreat

Did you know that there are spas that specialize in skin conditions such as psoriasis (think: The Blue Lagoon Psoriasis Skin Clinic in Iceland). To find one nearish you, do a search on mega-directory SpaFinder for a place that specializes in treatments for sensitive skin. And before you book, make sure there is a licensed esthetician on staff who understands the complexity psoriasis. But as a rule of thumb, avoid chemical peels, body scrubs, and hot tubs, which may exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.

Make it Happen: La Roche-Posay Thermal Centre, designed for weakened skin and located in France, hosts over 8,000 sensitive-skinned spa visitors per year.

woman in red bathing suit floating in the Dead Sea
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Splash in the Springs

A centuries-old psoriasis treatment involves bathing in mineral water (aka balneotherapy). It's one of the biggest reasons the Dead Sea in Israel has been one of the most popular destinations for people with psoriasis. One theory as to why it's so great: The high mineral content may help improve the skin's microbiome. Some researchers believe that people with psoriasis have less of the good-for-you bacteria on their skin.

Make it Happen: Get the skin-healing benefits of balneotherapy stateside by visiting the Warm Mineral Springs in North Port, FL, which is a natural swimming pool filled with mineral-rich spring water. Canon ball!

Go Someplace Warm. Period.

Still not sure where to take your skin on vacation? You’ll be able to zone in on the perfect locale easier if you scratch off the places with dry, cold climates (sorry, Colorado). When it’s cold out, we tend to layer up and stay indoors. Cold air, and the heat indoors, can cause your skin to dry out. A study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that the majority of people with psoriasis saw skin improvements in the summer and more frequent flares in the winter, when humidity is low and air is dry.

Make it Happen: It's not a coincidence that California is nicknamed the "Golden State"--the south and central parts of the state have a mild climate and moderate humidity that does psoriasis some good.

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Enjoy a Staycation

Just having the time to breath in your own home—sans obligations or a long to-do list—can be restorative. It can also be a great time to finish a long overdue crafting project or start something you have been dreaming of doing for a while. Taking a week’s vacation just to be at home without a specific schedule allows you to move at your own pace and catch up on the rest that the body needs. Taking this time may lower stress, improve skin, and give you the energy to return to a full schedule. Welcome home!

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Travel Right

On your next skin-saving journey—no matter how near or far you travel—don’t forget to pack the following:

  • Easy-to-Layer clothes Pack layers of soft, breathable clothing that you can pull off or pile on as needed.
  • Water bottle Staying hydrated is super important for psoriasis, especially if you have a long flight ahead.
  • Meds Keep your psoriasis medications in your carry-ons so they will be nearby if you are experiencing a flare.
  • Munchies Bringing along anti-inflammatory foods such as grapes, blueberries, and walnuts will help keep you away from the vending machines and feeling your best.
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.