Why psoriasis reacts to weather and seasons, and what can you do about it?
Psoriasis is a sensitive condition. Starting from our mood, food, physical activity and even the quality of the air can make a difference. People with Psoriasis fear the winter season because it is known that the cold season triggers flareups.
Summer season is not for everyone either. While the majority enjoys the sunrays and natural healing, it has been known that there is a minority who gets flareups from sun exposure and heat.
Although there is nothing we can do about the weather, it is worth learning about why and how seasons affect us, so we can minimize the negative effects and try to find remedies that help to manage the symptoms and hopefully help us to stay flare-free.
Why Winter Triggers Psoriasis Flare-ups?
1) Less Vitamin D
We all know by now and the Researchers also found that vitamin D deficiency is common in psoriasis patients, and significant associations between low vitamin D status and psoriasis have been systematically observed.1
We get little to almost no sun exposure during winter days. Less sunlight, less “Sunshine Vitamin”.
Why Vitamin D is so important for People with Psoriasis?
We all know that Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health because it helps calcium absorption, forming strong bones. But if you look deeper, the role of Vitamin D goes far beyond than that.
- Immune System
- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infections2, and Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition with increased susceptibility to infection.
- Low Vitamin D levels have been found to be associated with various types of metabolic illness3and Psoriasis strongly associated with the clinical features of the metabolic syndrome.4
- Nervous system
- Vitamin D plays an important role in the central nervous system5, and the nervous system plays an important role in the inflammatory process of psoriasis6
- Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and others, tend to have lower vitamin D status.7 There are so many people have those conditions along with psoriasis, and Psoriasis is characterized by inflammation on skin and joints.
And the list goes on. So Vitamin D affects every part of our body and low levels can cause;
- Fatigue and Tiredness
- Joint Pain
- Osteoporosis/bone loss
- Hair Loss
- Muscle Pain and so much more, and all of these symptoms are present in Psoriasis too.
Continue reading, we will discuss tips and remedies below.
2) Air is Dry
They say cold air can’t hold as much water vapour as the warm air. Logically, it also makes sense that with little or no sunlight there is not much of active evaporation goes on, so we are left with cold dry air which leads to dry, chapped, cracked and flakey skin even in healthy people.
3) Less Activity
Naturally, the cold season calls for a hibernation mode and many of us tend to become less physically active. Physical inactivity is a primary cause of most chronic diseases8 and Psoriasis is a chronic disease. Also, people who are not active have at risk of sleep apnea, weight gain, muscle shrinkage, decreased endurance, increased stress levels, hormonal imbalance and decreased oxygen uptake.
4) Less Vitamins
We tend to crave more comfort foods during the winter and consume less fresh fruits and vegetables compared to other seasons, and the fruits we get in the winter season are more of those grown greenhouses. Although people say their nutritional value is almost the same, they still grow with artificial lighting and heaters. Can’t be as good as the open-field cultivation with natural sunlight?
5) Immune system weakens in winter months
All of the above impacts our immune system, and additionally, cold weather also affects our heart. Low temperatures cause our blood vessels and arteries to narrow, limiting blood flow and reducing oxygen to the heart. This may prevent white blood cells from reaching the mucous membrane, making it harder for the body to fight off germs.9,10
6) Colds and Flu and Throat infections
Throat infections, colds and flu are more common in the winter and psoriasis gets worst with flu, allergies, or infections that affect your throat or tonsils and upper respiratory system. A study suggests that the immune response in the tonsils of psoriasis patients is abnormal. The findings of the study were consistent with the idea that the infiltrating T cells which drive psoriatic skin disease might originate in tonsils where streptococcal infection induces a skin-homing phenotype, and respiratory virus infections trigger acute psoriasis flares 11, 12
What to do about it?
1) Normalize your Vitamin D levels
Ask your Doctor to Check your Vitamin Levels especially Vitamin D, and try to regulate it by loading up your diet with Vitamin D rich foods like;
- Cod Liver Oil
- Beef Liver
The list also contains some canned fish, eggs, red meat and some dairy products, and fortified orange juice, yoghurts, margarine, and other food products, however, they are known to trigger flareup for many so we will skip them here.
2) Humidify your house and use moisturiser
First, check the humidity level using a hygrometer.
Below temperature guide from HVAC.com will show you where to keep your indoor relative humidity levels to ensure comfort.13
- Outdoor temperature over 50˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 50%
- Outdoor temperature over 20˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 40%
- Outdoor temperature between 10˚F and 20˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 35%
- Outdoor temperature between 0˚F and 10˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 30%
- Outdoor temperature between -10˚F and 0˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 25%
- Outdoor temperature between -20˚F and -10˚F, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 20%
- Outdoor temperature at -20˚F or lower, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 15%
Now, you can humidify your home with DIY options such as; keeping a bowl of water next to heaters, drying clothes in the room, or letting kettle of water boil and steam on the stove for some time etc.
Or you can use a humidifier. The advantage of humidifiers is that a good humidifier will have a built-in hygrometer to measure the humidity levels and auto-shutoff to prevent excess humidity, you can set timer etc.
When choosing a humidifier, consider the space’s size and purchase the right size of humidifier to match. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the comfort level is usually between 30% and 50%.
Check out these recommended humidifiers:
Also, keep your skin moisturized, use lukewarm water to shower and wash with a moisture-rich shower gel, drink lots of water.
3) Stay Active
A study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds that vigorous exercise may help reduce the risk of psoriasis in women by 25 to 30%.
“Inflammation is associated with the risk of psoriasis, and people who exercise vigorously may have less inflammation in their bodies,” explains Dr. Abrar Qureshi, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.14
Regular exercise can help massively improve psoriasis symptoms and a combination of a proper diet and exercise can even result in long term remission. Because exercise benefits are endless for our body:
- Exercise reduces body fat
- Increases lifespan
- Helps maintain mobility
- Improves sleep
- Improves memory
- improves coordination
- Strengthens muscles
- Strengthens bones
- Improves complexion
- Detoxifies body
- Helps manage chronic pain
- Wards off viruses
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- Boosts mood
- Helps detoxify through sweat
- Decreases stress
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
3) Increase the intake of vitamin rich fruits and vegetables
Consume more of Vitamin rich fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds. Since citrus fruits trigger flares for some people, we can skip citrus fruits and focus on more:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Almonds and walnuts (peanuts and sunflower seeds are reported to trigger flares)
5) Strengthen your Immune system
We already addressed the importance of active lifestyle and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables to boost immune system. Additionally, you can try to minimize stress and improve sleep to stay flare free
6) Try to avoid Colds and Flu and Throat infections
Flu viruses and Bacterial infections spreads through airborne respiratory droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Keeping a safe distance from someone infected or wearing a mask, washing hands regularly, and avoiding sharing utensils and personal items can help. A reminder, a strong immune system is the key. Healthy food choices and regular exercises will help strengthen your immune system over time, and this is the goal in healing psoriasis as well.15
Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below
Disclaimer: Dear reader, any and all the content on OffPsoriasis.com Is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.
People with specific health or allergy needs are advised to consult their doctor before using any remedies. A natural remedy does not mean safe if exceeded recommended doses or if the person is allergic to the ingredients. We recommend doing personal research and allergy test before introducing new ingredients to your diet.