Tips on Traveling with Psoriasis
“Traveling can definitely make a positive impact on your life” - say headlines of various news sites. Right, but do they consider that fact that not everyone can travel without having to worry about health issues?
I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 16. My psoriasis obviously can be moderately controlled, but cannot be fully cured. Psoriasis isn’t as easy to get used to while traveling, because while it's a very common illness, many people aren't aware of it. Why? Simply because psoriasis sufferers don't want to show off their flaky skin. I mean, imagine getting a flare-up before going to the beach? It could totally ruin your holiday and therefore many people prefer not to travel while their skin is painful and doesn't look very 'presentable'.
However, being a professional travel blogger, my life revolved around traveling almost full-time and therefore dealing with my psoriasis on the road. In the beginning, I would hide by wearing long skirts and not going for a swim, but the more I traveled the more I understood that I just need to cope with it. I coped, but the world didn't seem to cope with psoriasis for various reasons. Below I list a few issues you might deal with when abroad and give advice on how to cope with them.
You cannot really get medicines abroad
Moving around and living in countries with not the most advanced health care, receiving any form of medication has practically been a mission impossible. Long waiting periods and unavailability of getting biological drugs in several countries I've lived in over the past few years made me realize that I need to deal with flare-ups on the road. Trust me, it gets easier the longer you do it.
People will stare as you'll be forced to be in cramped situations
When the psoriasis on my scalp gets bad, flakes of skin drop whenever I shake my head. I feel like a snowman leaving snowflakes everywhere and dark colored plane seats are my worst nightmare. In these situations, fellow passengers tend to stare and it took me months to realize that some people will continue to do so no matter what, simply because they don't understand what psoriasis is. Once, a flight attendant asked me what was wrong with my skin in front of the other passengers. As she wasn’t very discreet about it, other people started to look very concerned and ended up asking me whether I have Ebola or another scary disease. I explained to her that there was nothing to worry about as psoriasis is a genetic disease and not contagious. It seemed to me that she didn’t believe me and called another crew member over who had to deal with the whole scene. Embarrassing, I know, but in the end what could I do? Resign from traveling just because people keep asking me questions about my skin? Of course not.
You cannot always cover spot with clothes
I'm aware that many psoriasis sufferers prefer to cover the affected areas of skin with clothing. Long sleeves, pants, and hats are normal to wear daily for them, even during hot and sunny days. However, while it might be warm in the US or Europe and you won't melt in the sun when covered in clothes, this method won't work in the hottest regions like Central America or the Middle East. You need to learn to deal with wearing shorts and the thinnest shirts you have. I had been afraid of doing it for a while as I didn't make to make a sensation out of myself, however, the more confident I became about my psoriasis the less people were staring. In fact, over the last few months, I didn't notice anyone giving my psoriasis even a glance and trust me – I'd notice if they did.
Air on the plane will dry your skin
After a long-haul flight, I've always felt like my psoriasis was getting worse, but I thought it was just a coincidence. But it turned out that apparently, it wasn't. Airlines filled the aircraft with lower quality air that makes you skin dry. This is exactly why many travelers put a face mask on board. Obviously, this doesn't do anything good to anybody's psoriasis and therefore remember to keep putting a ton of lotion during the flight.
*I hope this article will convince you that you can travel despite your psoriasis and there's no need to be afraid. While the culture and weather of foreign countries might affect your daily routine from home, it shouldn't stop you from traveling. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to message me or leave a comment!
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