How to Travel with Psoriasis
Expert Reviewed Vacations should be fun for everyone; however, if you have a health condition such as psoriasis, travel can put a damper on your enjoyment. You may worry about flare ups ruining your plans or having an attack with no medical care. But having psoriasis doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself while traveling. By gathering supplies and taking precautions at your destination, you can travel and enjoy yourself with psoriasis.
Planning for Your Trip Ahead of Time
Visit your dermatologist. Speak to your doctor or dermatologist any time you travel to a new place. They can advise you how to minimize the risk of a flare-up at your destination. They can also give you prescriptions for injection needles or extra medication.
- Tell the doctor where you are traveling and give them any information you have on the destination’s conditions.
- Ask your doctor questions about avoiding a flare-up and what to do if you have one. Get a note from your doctor if you are traveling with needles for an injection medication such as a biologic.
Contact your insurance provider. If you have insurance, speak with your provider to see if your policy covers medication and/or medical care where you’re traveling. Your plan may pay for emergency care, medication, and/or a doctor’s office visit. If your policy doesn’t cover travel, buy a travel policy to cover any potential emergencies.
- Tell your representative where you’re traveling and potential problems you could encounter regarding care or medication. The representative can provide information about dealing with medical care on vacation. Ask if your policy covers overseas and/or out-of-network travel.
Get extra medication and supplies. Make sure you have plenty of medication and supplies to get through your trip. This can also help in case you lose part of your supply. Check your prescriptions to make sure you have enough medication to last your entire trip. Ask your doctor to prescribe a larger or extra dose in case of an emergency. Keep a copy of all of your prescriptions written by your doctor so that you can take them through airport or other security with as little hassle as possible.
- Keep your medication and supplies with you at all times. This can prevent missing treatment in case your luggage gets lost. Have a supply of over-the-counter medications and lotions or creams to back up prescription medications.
- Refrigerate medication as needed. Some psoriasis medications may require refrigeration for efficacy. Pack any medications that need refrigeration in an insulated bag or cold pack your doctor provides.
Getting Ready for Your Trip
Check the environmental conditions at your destination. Individuals with psoriasis are often very sensitive to weather conditions. Cold and dry conditions can exacerbate psoriasis, while warmer and more humid environments may ease and prevent uncomfortable flare ups. Checking the environmental conditions at your destination can help you better prepare for your trip, including knowing what types of supplies, medications, and clothing to bring.
- Look at the environmental conditions such as the temperature, relative humidity, and sun index for the time of year you plan to travel. Organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency and local county extensions can give you information on these conditions.
Select items to pack based on the conditions. No matter where you’re traveling, having the proper gear can help minimize your risk of flare ups or worsening psoriasis. Once you’ve checked the environmental conditions, pack clothing and other gear that is appropriate for your destination.
- Bring small bottles to carry a small amount of lotion, water, or another necessities during day trips.
- Pack cotton clothing if you can as it is less likely to irritate your skin or cause overheating. Loose clothing can also minimize rubbing that can irritate psoriasis.
- Consider specific conditions when packing clothing. For destinations with warmer and more humid aid, choose light and airy fabrics such as cotton and even viscose. Dresses and loose pants and shirts are excellent options. For cooler and drier temperatures, consider leggings or wider-legged jeans with shirts and natural fabric sweaters you can layer.
Ask about local infrastructure. Stressful travel conditions can trigger flare ups. Ask friends, family, or travel agents about the infrastructure at your destination. This can minimize stress or other factors that trigger flare ups.
- Visit a local travel agent and ask for information on your destination. Even if you didn’t book your travel through them, they may be able to help you navigate public transportation or side trips with minimal cost. Understanding local infrastructure can ease stress and prevent flare ups.
- Ask friends or family members if they or someone they know have been to your destination. These individuals often have great tips from their travels.
- Check the web for local information. For example, if you want to go to Berlin, you can easily access local transport maps at http://www.bvg.de/en/. For someplace like India, you can find information at sites such as or http://www.goatsontheroad.com/backpackers-guide-transportation-in-india/.
Try the cuisine ahead of time. There is no special psoriasis diet, but some foods may make symptoms worse. Getting a sense of the cuisine at your destination may help you avoid foods that can worsen symptoms or cause flare ups. Going to restaurants in your area that serve the cuisine may give you an idea of what you can expect when you are abroad and help you figure out dishes you can safely eat. You can also look up recipes for common dishes and check the ingredients. Be aware that the following can make psoriasis symptoms worse:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Nightshade plants such as peppers, white potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes
- Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes
Avoiding Flare-Ups at Your Destination
Stick to your regular skincare routine. Maintaining your regular skincare routine can help you avoid flare ups while traveling. You may need to tweak your routine slightly based on the destination, but continue to cleanse, moisturize, and descale plaque psoriasis as usual.
- Switch to a heavier cream if you are at a cooler, drier destination and apply as necessary. You may want to use lighter creams and moisturizers in warmer, more humid places.
- Carry a couple of soft washcloths or towels with you to avoid irritating your skin. You can also use your hands to lather up without rubbing too harshly.
Protect your skin. One thing that can happen as a result of too much sun exposure or damage to your skin from a scrape or scratch is the formation of psoriasis plaque at the injured site. Protecting your skin at your destination can minimize the risk of developing new psoriasis or causing existing patches to flare up.
- Cover your skin with loose, comfortable clothing. If you’re in a cold climate, layer clothing for warmth and natural moisture.
- Apply sunscreen every couple of hours to prevent sunburn. Use a water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection of SPF 30 or higher.
Apply moisturizer regularly. Keeping your skin moisturized can minimize flare-ups and itching. Protect your skin with a layer or moisturizer in the morning and evening. Apply lotion or cream if you notice any flare-ups or itching during the day. Carrying a small bottle of lotion with you can help until you return to the hotel.
- Minimize the risk of spreading potential infections on your hands by washing or sanitizing them before applying your lotion.
Stash some anti-histamine in your bag. Even with moisturized skin, you may experience some itching. Keeping a dose or two of antihistamine with you at all times can help control itching. It may prevent scratching and tearing of your skin, too.
Minimize your stress. Travel should be enjoyable; however, sometimes you may run into situations, such as canceled flights or being in a huge crowd, that stress you. This can trigger a psoriasis flare up. Managing your stress during your trip can help you enjoy yourself and minimize the risk of a psoriasis attack.
- Give yourself frequent breaks during the day. These can help you relax and catch your breath if you’re feeling stressed.
- Know how to manage your stress. Whether it's deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, or listening to music, you should know in advance the best ways to calm yourself and reduce stress in the moment.
- Avoid stressful situations as much as possible. For example, leave extra early for flights or other transportation, stay away from crowds if possible, and remove yourself from any drama involving travel mates.
Get a bit of sun. Small amounts of sunlight can help control psoriasis. Scheduling some daily sun time during your trip can minimize the risk of flare-ups, but also reduce any stress.
- Continue to apply sunscreen during your sun exposure. Recognize that you will still get beneficial amounts of sun exposure even with sunscreen. Reapply it every two hours or more often if you’re swimming.
- Keep a log of how much time you spend in the sun. While some sun exposure is good for psoriasis, too much can lead to sunburn. This may cause your psoriasis to get worse.
Go for a swim in the sea. If you are near a body of salt water or a health spa, go for a swim. Exposure to salt water may help your psoriasis and prevent a flare-up. In addition, swimming can help you relax and minimize any stress that may make your psoriasis worse.
Keep emergency information with you. Even if you protect your skin and prepare for the unexpected, you may still run into a problem while traveling. Keep a list of emergency information with you at all times. Make sure you have a list of your medications and the phone numbers or locations of local clinics or doctors. This can ensure you receive prompt and proper care.
- Carry a list of your medications. You should also list any medical allergies you have.
- Carry the phone numbers for your local medical staff, your doctor, emergency contacts, and insurance information. If you are traveling abroad, include the information of the embassy or local consulate in your destination.