How I Prepare for Vacation With Psoriasis

Last updated: December 2019

In a couple of weeks, we are heading to Fort Lauderdale to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We are staying on the beach at the same hotel we got married at. It’s also been about three, possibly four, months since I spent time in the sun. My skin is pretty fair at the moment.

While I am not prone to burning, I can burn if I haven’t been out in the sun for a while. My immediate fear about too much sun and burning is the Koebner Phenomenon causing psoriasis to pop back up. So, this is how I prepare for a vacation with psoriasis.

Sun protection for psoriasis on vacation

In a perfect world, I pre-game for sun exposure and more vitamin D. For me, pre-gaming is when I go out and get my skin used to being exposed. Every day, I add a little more time out in the sun to my routine. And also, in that perfect world, I wear the appropriate SPF sunblock while outside. The goal is to not get scorched when hanging out pool or beachside. But life has gotten in the way and pre-gaming hasn’t occurred this time around. So I’ll be very reliant on a few things like sunblock, shade, and rash guards.

Before packing, I make a few sets of lists. One of those lists is for packing toiletries like sunblock, moisturizer, and soap.

Psoriasis and sunblock

First, I check to make sure there’s enough sunblock to pack for the amount of time we will be traveling. Sure, you can buy it when you get to your destination, but here is why I don’t — skin testing. Whether I need to buy more, use an old bottle or change brands, I always do a skin test to ensure the sunblock doesn’t create a breakout. There’s nothing worse than breaking out in a rash, eczema, or have psoriasis erupt while you’re on vacation.

Following the sunblock’s directions is also important. When we are at our destination, sunny South Florida, re-application is vital. Even on the cloudiest of days, sunblock and re-applying is vital to remaining burn-free. I tend to gravitate toward a sunblock developed for sport due to going from beach sand and saltwater to the pool. Not to mention, you want something strong enough to help block the sun’s glare off the water. If you’re unsure of what SPF you need, call your dermatologist’s office and discuss where you are going and see what they recommend.

Avoid the sun. Find the shade

The hotel we are staying at has a lot of great shade options. We also have a few beach accessories that help provide additional shade like a pop-up tent.

Rash guards are another great option for keeping your skin protected. They come in all different types of looks and styles from a bathing suit with sleeves for women to long or short-sleeves for men and women. There are even UPF-blocking rash guards and athletic clothing.

I look for rash guards with medium to high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. One thing to keep in mind is to read wash directions on the garment’s label. This is because certain chemicals like fabric softeners can degrade the material’s ability to block ultraviolet rays. In other words, you can still wear it into the water, but the ultraviolet ray protective element would be eliminated.

Psoriasis is unpredictable. Vacation doesn't have to be.

The last thing I keep in my vacation arsenal is a variety of moisturizers. When a burn is lurking or starting to take place, I have a moisturizer specifically for that. Aside from the moisturizers that I use for travel I also keep a container of coconut oil handy. I love coconut oil because it's so versatile. You can turn it into a rub-in moisturizer and use it as a makeup remover or turn it into an exfoliator. All it takes is a packet of sugar or salt to make your on-the-go exfoliator.

Nothing is perfect, and I have given in to the fact that psoriasis is unpredictable. But by taking these simple steps, I feel like I am being proactive in helping reduce the risk of an eruption.

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