Psoriasis Holiday Hacks
Last updated: September 2023
I have a complicated relationship with the holiday season. Halloween starts it off with a bang. I love Halloween. My wife and I started dating October 31st, and the day just became more and more fun once we started having kids. I also love the weather. I not-so-secretly fist pump whenever snow falls, because then I can just pass those flakes on my shoulders off as snowflakes. However, as the season progresses, busy schedules coupled with rich edibles and family drama can create the perfect cocktail (and not the good kind) for psoriatic flares.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
The holidays can bring with them many obligations. If this causes you stress, it isn’t worth it! Stress is the enemy of psoriasis. Not to mention, sweating figuratively or literally is no fun. I have a sneaking suspicion that all deodorant manufacturers secretly put itching powder in their formula. Every day I have a mental battle over whether I want to stink or itch, so adding sweat-inducing stress into my life is avoided at all costs.
Every situation is different, but the fact is that the people in your life (hopefully) care more about you being healthy than they do about gifts, parties, or anything else. If you have to decline an invitation or can’t afford to get your kiddo that expensive super-awesome-deluxe-noisy-will-break-by-January toy, it is ok. I repeat—it is ok. Overextending yourself physically, financially, or emotionally will not end well. You might feel good for a second that you checked off everything on your list, but your body may retaliate from the stress it took to get there, and that is no way to start off a new year.
Gratitude versus plaque-itude
Ok, you caught me. I made up the word plaque-itude, but I did it to prove a point, so stick with me here. We all have that great aunt who loves to buy us a wool sweater lined in polyester; or that cousin who picked our name for the gift exchange, and doesn’t know what to get us, so a perfume-laden bath-and-body set lands on our lap. These are kind and well-meaning gifts that we should be grateful for, but be careful to not let that gratitude lead to plaque-itude, which is basically when our plaques get an attitude because they are exposed to terrible irritants.
This is undoubtedly an uncomfortable situation, but there are a few ways around it.
First option: smile and give a heartfelt thank you, then store the gift away to be regifted later, or give it to a local charity. Never feel obliged to use a gift that could compromise your comfort or wellness.
Second option: be proactive. Let your loved ones know that if they want to give you a gift this year, they can make a donation to your favorite cause. Choosing a cause that benefits your disease is even better!
Third option: educate. You can graciously explain that you love that they thought of you and gave you such a wonderful gift, but because of your disease, accepting it could cause a flare in your condition. This will prevent future itch-inducing gifts, but to be honest, I have not had the guts to try this out IRL.
Food and drinks and candy—oh my!
Let’s not dance around it; holiday treats are delicious. The food is rich and comforting. The drinks are warm, relaxing, and can make family much more tolerable. Sweets abound at every corner! It really is a magical time, but the key is to enjoy that magic in moderation. I will never be one to say “you better stay away from all that good stuff if you know what’s best!” Psoriasis is already a disease that limits us in many ways, so adding on more rules can just be depressing. Instead, get familiar with your body and research and approach these things with caution.
Everyone with psoriasis has different triggers. Some have found that gluten, or dairy, or sugar are culprits. Others have tried eliminating those from their diet and didn’t notice a difference in their disease. Knowing how you relate to foods is what is key. Knowledge is power, and that is true for approaching the dinner table. If you know that favorite flare spot (mine is the insides of my elbows) will be redder than Rudolph’s nose the next day if you indulge in the Figgie Pudding, then you have to decide if it is worth it. You can either view it as a one-time treat, or you can look to other parts of the table and choose the turkey with a side of baked sweet potatoes (sans marshmallows—who on earth decided those two belong together anyways? Gross!).
Alcohol is a little more cut and dry. Many studies have shown that alcohol can make psoriasis worse and reduce responsiveness to treatment. This is because alcohol opens up blood vessels, and by opening blood vessels in the skin, alcohol allows the T cells blamed for psoriasis to reach the skin more easily. That is not fun, but enduring bad jokes and family squabbles sober may make it worth it to you!
Find what makes your holidays happy and remember that you can always make new resolutions come January 1st!
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?