Holiday Festivities Survival Guide

Eggnog!! Apologies, I’m supposed to be writing an article about surviving the holidays with psoriasis, but my mind is totally consumed with thoughts of how much eggnog I’m going to buy at the grocery store later this evening (and will they have their candy cane ice cream out yet?!). As we approach Christmas and other festivities this year, the stores are filled with my favorite holiday treats, the malls are decorated, and the pumpkin spice lattes have been swapped out for candy cane hot chocolate (note to self, make trip to Starbucks today). But as much as I love this time of year, it’s not always kind to my psoriasis. Here’s my list of tips for surviving the holidays with psoriasis.

What to wear and how to moisturize

I’m not sure where you live, but I’m from Canada, where this time of the year brings bitter winds and lots of snow. Itchy wool sweaters are everywhere, and it’s usually the time of year I have to break out my hats and mitts before I go outside. Remember that as psoriasis sufferers, cold, dry weather is not kind to our skin, and we must be extra vigilant. My skincare routine in the winter doubles up, and I’ll use coconut oil first followed by my favorite moisturizer after a shower. Using an initial oily layer keeps my skin moisturized far longer than my creams alone, and prevents any cracks and fissures. When my psoriasis is particularly bad on my arms and elbows, I have cotton socks that I cut the ends off and roll up my arms to cover my psoriasis. This keeps in extra moisture and prevents any cold air blowing up my sleeves and drying my skin out. Wearing light colored hats and scarves outside disguise flakes too! If you have a psoriasis sufferer on your present list, extra moisturizer and warm, cotton clothing is a great gift idea at this time of year (unless you live somewhere tropical, in which case we cannot be friends).

Avoiding holiday related stress

Just as you were getting over your Black Friday flare-up, winter holidays show up to shovel on another layer of stress. Did you remember to get a gift for Sharon this year? Have you put up your holiday decorations yet? Did you forget the figgy pudding?! Try to keep in mind that over the holidays we tend to be more stressed than usual, and anything that you can do to reduce the stress will be welcomed by your skin. My husband and I love to host holiday parties, but we only do potlucks, which reduces the stress on us considerably (spread the love, people). I also make every effort to get my present shopping and wrapping done early (if you’re only reading this now... consider it a goal for the future!). The longer you wait the more stressful it is; the malls and shops are usually jam packed, and it’s right around now that Canada gets huge snowstorms, turning the roads and parking lots into horror shows. I also put up my Christmas tree and decorations in mid-November, but that’s so I can enjoy them even longer! Find all of the little things that stress you out this season and put them on the naughty list (this pun’s for you, Santa).

Avoiding food triggers

Speaking of eggnog and figgy pudding, did I mention that my skin absolutely hates eggs, sugar, and gluten? The dairy in candy cane ice cream is a killer, as is the candy cane hot chocolate from Starbucks that I just finished drinking. The point is, decide ahead of time how far from your usual skin-friendly diet you are going to stray. If you want to stick to the straight and narrow, consider bringing your own dish to dinners hosted by friends (this way you’ll be sure there’s something you can eat!). Keep in mind also that alcohol is generally unkind to your skin. But hey, there’s always Aunt Margaret’s veggie platter, amirite?!

Plan ahead

Of course a flare decided to pop up during the holidays, instead of canceling some plans I decided I would just push through it... I made it to all my small get togethers, then fell asleep at my family celebrations. Talk with your family and friends to let them know where your head space is, and this way they can help you through the holidays. And remember not to self-sabotage with guilt this holiday season. It’s okay to take a breather, to decline invitations, to forgo the fancy wrapping paper, to get your cranberry sauce from a can. It’s what Santa would want for you!

Happy Holidays to you and yours, fellow flakers

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