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Can You Swim With Psoriasis: Expert Advice

September 21, 2023

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Are you ready to dive into the water with confidence, but struggling with the challenges of psoriasis? Don’t let this skin condition hold you back any longer! In this article, we will provide you with essential swimming tips specifically tailored to individuals with psoriasis.

Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease, can cause discomfort and self-consciousness, but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the water. We understand the unique concerns you may have, that’s why we’ve curated a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the waters confidently.

From choosing the right swimwear to managing flare-ups and maintaining proper skincare routines, we’ve got you covered. With our expert advice, you can embrace the joy of swimming while keeping your psoriasis under control.

So, grab your towel, put on your sunscreen, and let’s dive in together with confidence!

Woman applying sunscreen lotion at swimming pool to take care of her skin

Understanding Psoriasis in Relation to Swimming

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes red, itchy, and scaly skin. These patches, known as plaques, can be uncomfortable and may worsen with exposure to specific triggers, including water. While swimming can provide relaxation and exercise, it’s important to understand how psoriasis can be impacted by water.

The moisture, chemicals, and temperature of the water can sometimes aggravate the sensitive skin, leading to flare-ups or increased itchiness. However, with the right knowledge and precautions, you can still enjoy the salt water swim without letting psoriasis hold you back.

The Sea or the Pool: Which is Better?

Swimming can be a fun and relaxing activity for many, but for those suffering from psoriasis, the prospect of swimming might raise concerns. When considering swimming options, individuals with psoriasis often wonder whether seawater or a swimming pool is a better choice. Let us delve into the benefits and drawbacks of both options to provide expert advice on which might be more suitable for those with psoriasis.

Swimming in Seawater

Seawater has been praised for its potential therapeutic effects on various skin conditions, including psoriasis. Here’s why:

  • Natural exfoliation: The salt content in seawater can gently exfoliate the skin, helping to remove dead cells and scales common in psoriasis-affected areas. This may result in improved skin texture and reduced scaling.
  • Antiseptic properties: Seawater contains natural minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iodine, which have mild antiseptic properties. These properties could potentially help reduce the risk of bacterial infections, which can be a concern for individuals with psoriasis due to the broken skin barrier.
  • Sun exposure: While swimming in seawater, you are likely to be exposed to sunlight, which can have a positive impact on psoriasis lesions for some individuals. Sunlight provides vitamin D, which is known to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help alleviate psoriasis symptoms.

However, seawater quality can differ from one location to another, and some areas may be polluted or have higher bacterial content. This can pose a risk of infection, so it’s essential to choose clean and well-maintained swimming spots.

Swimming in a Pool

Swimming pools are a popular and controlled environment for aquatic activities. Here are some benefits of swimming in a pool for individuals with psoriasis:

  • Consistent water quality: Pools are regularly maintained, and the water quality is often closely monitored, reducing the risk of exposure to harmful pollutants.

But chlorinated water in swimming pools can strip the skin of natural oils, leading to dryness, which may worsen psoriasis symptoms. Additionally, indoor pools may not offer the same benefits of sunlight exposure as swimming in seawater, potentially missing out on the positive effects of natural sunlight on psoriasis.

Conclusion: Seawater May Be Better

Both seawater and swimming pools have their advantages and disadvantages for individuals with psoriasis. However, seawater can provide natural exfoliation and potential antiseptic benefits. While swimming pools offer consistent water quality, the drying effect of chlorinated water may worsen the symptoms of chronic skin problems.

Preparing Your Skin Before Swimming With Psoriasis

Before heading to the water, it’s crucial to prepare your skin properly to minimize the potential impact of swimming on your psoriasis. One of the first steps is to moisturize your skin. Psoriasis tends to make the skin dry and prone to irritation, so applying a moisturizer before swimming can help create a protective barrier and make that flaky skin look healthy.

Go for a moisturizer specifically suited to dry or sensitive skin. Applying it at least 30 minutes before swimming will give it enough time to absorb into the skin. Take care to apply a little more around the skin lesions, if any.

Remove any scales or dead skin cells that may be present. This can be done by gently exfoliating the affected areas using a soft brush or exfoliating scrub. Psoriasis rashes can be sensitive to the sun, and exposure to UV rays can worsen the condition. It is recommended to wear sunscreen, this can protect your skin from harmful rays and reduce the risk of flare-ups.

Additionally, avoid hot tubs, showers, or baths before swimming, as they can dry out your skin and make it more susceptible to irritation. Instead, opt for lukewarm water and use a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt or sweat. Finally, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on your plaques to help protect them during your swim.

Choosing The Right Swimwear For Psoriasis

Selecting the right swimsuit can make a significant difference in your comfort level while swimming with psoriasis. One option for swimwear for individuals with psoriasis is a rash guard. This type of swimwear can be particularly beneficial for those with psoriasis as it covers a large portion of the body, including the arms and torso.

Another option for swimwear for individuals with psoriasis is a high-waisted bikini or tankini. These styles provide coverage for the midsection of the body, which is often a problem area for individuals with psoriasis.

In terms of material, it is important to choose swimwear that is made from non-irritating fabrics. Breathable clothing or fabrics such as cotton or blends with a high percentage of cotton can be a good choice as they are gentle on the skin and allow for air circulation. Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon, as these can cause sweating and further irritation.

Avoid tight-fitting swimwear that can rub against your psoriasis plaques, and instead opt for looser, more comfortable options. If you’re self-conscious about your psoriasis, consider choosing swimwear with longer sleeves or longer bottoms to provide additional coverage. Remember, the goal is to feel confident and comfortable in your swimwear, so choose what works best for you.

A woman applies moisturizing hand cream at home

Managing Psoriasis Flare-Ups While Swimming

Despite your best efforts, there may still be times swimming may trigger a psoriasis flare-up. To manage these flare-ups, it’s important to have a plan in place. An important aspect of managing psoriasis flare-ups while swimming is to protect the skin from pollutants and chemicals. These chemicals can irritate the skin and trigger flare-ups in individuals with psoriasis.

Firstly, be prepared by carrying a small bag with essentials such as moisturizer, water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen for certain conditions, and any prescribed medications. Apply sunscreen or a generous amount of moisturizer before and after swimming to keep your skin hydrated and protected.

If you experience a flare-up during your swim, try not to scratch or pick at your plaques, as this can worsen the condition. Instead, gently pat your skin dry and reapply moisturizer as needed. If your flare-up persists or becomes severe, consult your dermatologist for further guidance.

Choosing the right swimwear can also make a difference in managing psoriasis flare-ups. Listen to your body when it asks for a break and take ample rest before getting back to the water. Overexertion and prolonged exposure to water can cause the skin to become more irritated and worsen psoriasis symptoms.

Tips For Building Confidence In The Water With Psoriasis

Building confidence in the water with psoriasis may take time, but it’s an essential step toward enjoying your swimming experience. Start by reminding yourself that you’re not alone – many people with psoriasis face similar challenges.

Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or fellow swimmers who understand and accept your condition. Additionally, practice positive self-talk and focus on the enjoyment swimming brings instead of worrying about the appearance of your skin.

Wearing appropriate swimwear that covers areas affected by psoriasis can help individuals feel more comfortable in the water. Also, consider participating in swimming lessons or joining a swimming group specifically tailored for individuals with psoriasis.

This can provide a sense of belonging and support, as well as offer opportunities to share experiences and tips for managing psoriasis while swimming. These opportunities can further boost your confidence.

Woman enjoying swimming and blue ocean

Swimming Techniques For Those With Psoriasis

While swimming techniques may not directly impact your psoriasis, they can contribute to your overall comfort in the water. If you have plaques on your elbows or knees, avoid putting excessive pressure on these areas while swimming.

Instead, try modified strokes or techniques that minimize strain on those areas. For instance, using a breaststroke kick instead of a freestyle kick can reduce pressure on the knees. Experiment with different strokes and techniques to find what feels most comfortable for your skin and joints.

How Swimming Can Affect Psoriasis

Swimming offers numerous benefits for individuals with psoriasis. Water buoyancy reduces the pressure on joints, giving people with psoriatic arthritis a low-impact exercise option. Regular swimming can improve overall cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility.

Additionally, swimming can relieve stress, thereby having a positive impact on psoriasis symptoms. The combination of exercise, improved circulation, and stress reduction can help manage psoriasis and contribute to overall well-being.

Seawater can help remove dead skin cells, improving the appearance of the skin and providing temporary relief from itchiness. Additionally, swimming outdoors in the summer can help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), swimming in salt water can also be beneficial for individuals with psoriasis. It helps remove dead skin cells and improves the overall appearance of psoriasis-affected skin. 

Individuals with psoriasis should consult their dermatologist before starting any new exercise or swimming routine, as they can provide personalized advice and recommendations based on the individual’s specific condition.

Supportive Resources For Swimmers With Psoriasis

If you’re seeking additional support and resources for swimming with psoriasis, various organizations, and online communities can provide valuable information and guidance. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers resources, including forums and educational materials, to help individuals with psoriasis navigate their swimming journey.

Additionally, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have communities dedicated to individuals with psoriasis who share their experiences and provide support. Connecting with others who understand your journey can be empowering and motivating.

Overcoming Common Challenges While Swimming with Psoriasis

So, can you swim with psoriasis? Definitely! While swimming with psoriasis may have its challenges, it’s important to address and overcome them to fully enjoy your swimming experience. Some common challenges include self-consciousness, fear of judgment, and discomfort due to flare-ups.

Remember that everyone has insecurities; most people are too focused on their own lives to pay attention to their skin. Focus on the positive aspects of swimming, such as the joy it brings and the health benefits it provides. Embrace your journey and be proud of yourself for overcoming obstacles.

Girl is relaxing and swimming in the water

Final Thoughts On Can You Swim With Psoriasis?

Swimming is a fantastic activity that should not be limited by psoriasis. By understanding how psoriasis can be impacted by swimming and implementing the tips provided in this article, you can confidently dive into the water without letting your skin condition hold you back.

Remember to prepare your skin, choose suitable swimwear, manage flare-ups, build confidence, and embrace the numerous benefits swimming offers for psoriasis management. With the right approach and mindset, you can enjoy swimming and the freedom and joy it brings while keeping your psoriasis under control.

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