Summer starts this month in Australia and we all love going swimming to cool off, get some sun and be active. We Psoriasis sufferers really need the Ocean to help control our disease, so its time to get innovative and prepare ourselves for the swim season and the beach. The double whammy of salt water and UV sunlight seems to have a medicinal effect on psoriasis. I have a wonderful mental image of jumping into the sea and submerging my whole body into the water. The cool water covers your whole body from the tips of your toes to your scalp, cleaning and removing dead skin and soaking your body with the 72 elements of the Ocean. But there is an issue as psoriasis is not the type of skin that you can easily show off and you are concerned with other peoples reactions. I say swim and don’t be shy of your psoriasis but each person has a different levels of “being out there”.
Prepare for the swim: Look after your skin as much as possible before you go into the water. If it’s red and very scaly it won’t look the best so it’s important to try and control outbreaks as much as possible by eating healthy, reducing stress where possible and moisturising. This is easy to write but in reality psoriasis is a beast that always raises it head when you least expect it. I use my own creation of Ocean Soothe to “calm the farm”. It has stopped the scaly and shedding skin and makes my skin much more presentable to the general public
Location: If you are very shy about showing off your psoriasis it might be better to choose beaches that are quieter and more isolated, away from congested cities. In Australia we are lucky as you can find an obscure beach area within an hour’s drive. Here you can enjoy the beach without anyone looking. I have found public swimming pools almost impossible, as you have too many people and the water is too clear, so your inflamed skin is too visible.
Timing: Less people are at the beach in the early morning. The benefit is that you’re getting less intense UV than at midday. Early morning is when people living healthy lives are up and about, focussing on their own well-being, whether it be running or simply walking the dog.
Swimming gear: I wear long board shorts and a swim shirt which we call a ‘Rashie’ here in Australia. Rashies are shirts designed for surfers to stop them getting board rash when surfing in summer. The two benefits of rashies are that they are commonly worn on Australian beaches to protect against the intensity of the sun and they are long sleeved so a great coverup. Skin cancer issues are well known in Australia, so most people choose to wear rashies regardless of the visual appeal, which is great for those of us with psoriasis, as we tend to cover up as a matter of course.
Speed: I usually wear all my swim gear down to the beach so that I can just jump in. By wearing the full rashie and long board shorts I can easily park the car and run directly into the water. If you are going to change do it near were you get into the water so you can get swim ready and into the water.
Getting out: After a nice relaxing swim you can get out and if you have placed your towel near the exit to the beach you can wrap on your skin relatively easy. If you're wearing a full rashie you can take your time and make your way to the changing sheds on your own time.
Remember: You have psoriasis and society is getting better at accepting our disease. I promote the fact that I have psoriasis and I also get my skin out every so often to keep the public aware that all bodies are different. I hope this helps and if you are having problems with your skin please reach out to Overcoming Psoriasis Australia and join and share your story. Remember we are 125 million strong.
Warning: Even if the sun works well on psoriasis you must away be careful of skin burning causing cancer. Always wear a big brim hat and sunscreen to protect against the harmful rays specially around the neck, face and ears.
Remember it may be summer in Australia but every Ocean Soothe Gel and Lotion has the natural and nurturing Ocean within each package. You can simply rub on the Ocean anytime you want.
- Tony Crimmins