Psoriatic arthritis: Cold weather skin care

7 ways to protect your skin and prevent flares when the temperature drops.

Cold weather can make anyone's skin feel dry and itchy. But if you have psoriatic arthritis, dry skin is more than a nuisance. It can trigger uncomfortable, even painful skin flares. Keep your skin and nails healthy and resilient with these everyday do's and don'ts.

  • Don't take a hot shower. It might feel good when the weather is chilly, but very hot water can make your skin feel dry, tight and itchy later, setting you up for a psoriasis flare. Instead, opt for a warm or even cool shower or bath, just once a day. Avoid long showers or soaks, too — too much time in the water can dry out your skin. The American Academy of Dermatologists suggests five minutes for a shower and 15 minutes for a bath.
  • Do use your hands instead of a washcloth, body sponge, or loofah when showering or bathing. These items can scratch you and cause breaks in the skin, triggering skin psoriasis symptoms.
  • Don't use deodorant soap. Fragrance can irritate the skin. Choose moisture-rich soaps and cleansers designed for sensitive skin. Also, skip facial and body scrubs, which tend to be harsh and irritating.
  • Don't dry off completely. Gently blot water from your skin by using a soft towel or cloth. Don't rub — you don't want to damage your vulnerable skin. Leave your skin a bit damp.
  • Do use lots of moisturizer every day. Apply a thick ointment or cream-based moisturizer to your skin as soon as you get out of the tub or shower. Remember to choose fragrance-free products designed for sensitive skin. They may be labeled hypoallergenic. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends Cetaphil, CeraVe and Vanicream. Petroleum jelly is inexpensive and also works well.
  • Don't forget your hands and nails. Most people with psoriatic arthritis have nail psoriasis symptoms. Always moisturize your hands and nails, especially after handwashing. Try keeping a jar of moisturizer by the sink. When doing dishes, wear cotton gloves under vinyl or nitrile ones.
  • Do use a humidifier if you turn up the heat. Warmer temperatures inside a home create dry, hot air and rob your skin of moisture, putting you at risk of a flare. A humidifier adds moisture back to the air.
Feb. 25, 2022 See more In-depth