Travelling with Skin Conditions (eczema, psoriasis & more)
Travel Tips from Dr Ruth Handford
In this article we will consider some common skin problems, and how you can manage them whilst travelling. The most common skin conditions include eczema, psoriasis, skin infections, and poor circulation causing skin problems (varicose eczema).
Before you go:
Some people have obvious triggers for their eczema – such as allergies, makeup, chlorine, animals – etc etc. Be mindful of what makes your eczema worse, and consider whether this is likely to be more of a problem when away from your usual environment. Other skin conditions, like psoriasis, may improve when in sunlight – so bear this in mind when choosing your destination!
When travelling in sunny climates, you should definitely be using high factor suncreams – but consider trialling these on a small patch of skin at home before you go, just to make sure they don’t trigger a reaction.
Hot and humid environments can cause swelling in the ankles, and if you have skin problems due to circulatory problems, this may be made worse in warm climates. Consider whether you will be travelling to a region where mosquito and insect bites are likely – these can cause swelling and infection, as well as lots of itching – which may be very troublesome on already damaged skin.
Prevention and Planning:
As well as lots of sun cream that suits your skin, make sure you have a good supply of moisturisers that you can use whilst away. Avoid using new shower gels and shampoos whilst away. It is best to stick to something that suits you, or use your usual moisturiser to wash with instead of any soap based products.
Make sure you avoid alcohol whilst travelling, and drink plenty of water. Flying, in particular, is very dehydrating, and all skin conditions are made worse when the skin is dry.
Consider the type of clothing that may be best whilst you are away. Breathable, natural fabrics like cotton and linen are much kinder to the skin that synthetic materials, especially in hot climates. Long sleeves and long trousers are also a good idea when travelling in areas where insect bites and mosquitoes thrive. Avoiding bites is much better than dealing with the consequences.
Insect repellents are essential too – but again, make sure you know which ones suit your skin, and try them out before you travel.
Also discuss with your GP whether it would be sensible to take some steroid cream with you on holiday. Should you have a flare up of eczema or psoriasis, this could prove invaluable.
If you are prone to skin infections, like cellulitis, discuss with your GP about taking some antibiotics with you to start in the event of an infection. Treating these conditions early is very important.
Antihistamine tablets are also a vital part of your travel supplies. They can be incredibly useful
itching due to eczema or psoriasis, which may be worse in hot humid places, or if you have a flare
are also important if you do suffer an insect or mosquito bite – starting them early can
swelling, itching, and infection.
Hydration is so important. If you can drink plenty of water whilst away, especially if you are somewhere warm, you are far less likely to have flare ups of eczema, and it will help circulatory problems too.
Being somewhere hot can cause ankle swelling in anyone, but if you are particularly prone to this, make sure you stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the day, and take every opportunity to elevate your legs when seated. Keep as active as you comfortably can, as walking does help reduce ankle swelling. Keep swollen legs well moisturised to stop the skin cracking and to reduce itching.
Being exposed to sunlight, and swimming in the sea, can be incredibly beneficial for psoriasis symptoms. However, you must still use high factor, water resistant sun creams to avoid burning the skin and causing long term damage. Wear a hat to protect the scalp and face, where the skin is especially sensitive.
Always consult your own doctor before travelling
These travel tips are intended to provide general information to those with eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. They do not replace a visit to your doctor . If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.
About Dr Ruth Handford
Dr Ruth Handford is a GP with over 10 years' experience of working in both hospital and primary care. She is particularly interested in caring for the elderly in the community, child health, and family planning. Ruth lives and works in a rural community, and is kept very busy by her job and young family.
Important Information: These travel tips are intended to provide general information to those with eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. They do not replace a visit to your doctor . If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.
Travel Insurance for Eczema, Psoriasis and other Skin Conditions
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend that you have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. Make sure that your insurers are aware that you have a skin condition and ensure that your travel insurance provides cover for this; as well any other medical conditions you may have.