Behind the Photos: Dealing with Psoriasis When Traveling

A year ago I wrote an article describing my experience living and traveling with chronic conditions. While the responses from my readers were mainly positive, many reactions to a reprinted version of my article on weren’t nice at all.

Lots of people described me as this pretty girl who has a few red dots on her skin and complains. Others just focused on the main cover photo that my friend took when I was working as an assistant at a wedding photoshoot.

Ever thought why was I wearing long gloves in this photo?

What people who don’t have psoriasis might not know is that it does have an impact on your life and it’s not just ‘a few red dots’ but a bigger problem that not only prevents a lot of us from traveling and living abroad, but also very often from even leaving the house. Moreover, over 20% of people suffering from psoriasis are often depressed and 7% end in suicides. Still think it’s a silly skin problem?

This is why ever since my first article I wanted to write a follow up. Now I’m finally ready to share my experiences and give more tips that would hopefully encourage other people with psoriasis to travel more and not be afraid of dealing with other people.

Living with psoriasis is harder than many think it is.

When I was younger I was hoping that my psoriasis was going to go away at some point, but it never did. In fact, it was getting worse over the years. It’s been painful, itchy and therefore impacted on what I wore.

Whether you swim, go to the beach or go to hairdresser psoriasis can really destroy your self-confidence and make you resent your own body. While the majority of people have mild psoriasis my case was described as severe.

A lot of people don’t want to travel with psoriasis, as living with it even at home isn’t easy. I often spent hours picking flakes of my skin from my hair and sit on my bed scratching itchy patches.

When you travel and change the climate things it can get way worse. Moreover why would anyone go to a sunny destination when they’re embarrassed of undressing to a swimwear?

It looks like I look completely normal, right?

People will tell you to adjust your expectations to your condition

Ever since I was diagnosed with psoriasis I was told that I needed to adjust my expectations. My wardrobe was adjusted to my psoriasis, as I always wore long dresses with dark stockings to cover the spots on my legs. When I had flakes on my elbows, which was pretty much always, I wore long gloves when going out with friends and stopped wearing black sweaters and coats as scales from my head flaking off looked like bad dandruff. Every time I walked into a room for a job interview or even had a drink at friends’ house I didn’t want to sit on a black sofa or a chair as it was covered in ‘snow’ from my head very quickly.

I also gave up on one of my hobbies – pole fitness, as not only I was embarrassed to attend a class in shorts and a tank top, but also flared skin was often bleeding scaring my other classmates.Desktop


My public image of a ‘bikini girl’ in this case is quite ridiculous

I recently discovered that I’m being called a ‘bikini girl’ among other travel bloggers. Every major publication somehow chooses to feature my bikini photos as a cover photo of an article about me. While it may seem flattering, I think it’s quite a funny coincidence considering my skin problem. It actually costs me a lot of courage to put on my bikini and wander around the beach.

Since I currently live in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, where sunbathing at the beach or swimming at cenotes are daily activities, it’s impossible for me to avoid showing off some skin. Whether with red spots or without them.

I simply had to tell myself that I need to try to live like other people. I mean, seriously people, what am I supposed to wear the beach and swim in… a moo \-moo? That would be far more awkward, don’t you think?

Not photoshopped...
Not photoshopped…

I also heard that I’m this stereotypical girl with a perfect manicure and wearing dresses everywhere. I’m not going to go into the discussion about why the modern world thinks that in order to be a proper female traveler you need to wear absolutely no makeup, dress in sweatpants and tramps, as it’s a topic for a long blog post.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I actually hate shopping. I usually pick things up from Amazon (if you don’t believe me check this outfit), and really don’t enjoy getting my nails done every 2 weeks at the nail salon. But, due to my psoriasis again I have no nails when I don’t get special treatment for them and my supposedly perfect manicure isn’t actually my choice.

Your skin doesn’t define you

At some point I simply realized that if things cannot be changed I had to deal with my psoriasis everywhere instead of hiding it. I stopped carrying about covering up my spots, pretended as nothing happened and stop limiting myself because of it.

I’ve realized that no matter where I live or where I travel to, people will react to my skin in a similar way. So why would I suffer more thinking about it when my skin is painful enough already?

I quickly realized that it’s not me who can’t deal with it as I got used to it, but it’s other people. Treating my skin might make my morning routine longer than it’d take the ‘normal’ people, but it doesn’t mean it has to dictate my life.DSC030188

You gotta learn is how to deal with people in public

If I had a button to put on my chest when I go into public, it would be: Hello, I’m Anna, you don’t have to stare, it’s just psoriasis. It’s not contagious, as it’s not a skin disease but an immune disorder. Do I see that people are often afraid of sitting next to me? Yes, and you know what – it’s more space for me!

Will they stop asking questions? No, and they also won’t stop staring, so instead of feeling insecure about it I’ve learned to answer their questions before they even have a chance to open their mouth.

I didn’t fall off the bike and didn’t get a sunburn, it’s just my skin and no, I don’t need your cream that worked for your grandma. It definitely made my life easier.

You might want to cut off a few people from your life

As sad as it may sound I had to cut off a few people from my life, including some friends. You don’t want to be constantly asked about ‘how’s your skin doing this week?’, ‘does it get any better?’, ‘how’s your boyfriend dealing with it?’ etc and inspect it with stares when we meet. Again, it’s enough to stress for me as it is.

The thing is that you shouldn’t rely on people who cannot deal with something that’s a part of you. Instead, you want to be friends with those who’ll tell you that you’re crazy when you’re trying to put concealer over your red spots and that you look nice without it.

In the past, I lost two boyfriends over my psoriasis because they couldn’t deal with it and made me feel awful about myself and my look. I didn’t want to date and felt uncomfortable about even considering the possibility of a long relationship with anyone. The truth is, that you shouldn’t care about these idiots.

NEVER think that you cannot find someone who’d accept you for who you are regarding your skin issues. Trust me, one day you’ll meet someone who won’t give a damn and will make you feel beautiful – I’m speaking from experience.DSC02858

All I want to say is that you’re not alone! Your psoriasis is just a small distraction from everything you can do with your life! Travel, life abroad and enjoy life and ignore those who cannot handle you!

This article was originally published on & reposted on the Daily Mail.

33 thoughts on “Behind the Photos: Dealing with Psoriasis When Traveling”

  1. Love this! well done for standing up for yourself and writing this. Those who may bag you out for being a “pretty girl” or “bikini girl” are jealous! I bet you work hard to have a good body and therefore should be able to show it how you want. People should learn to stop being so judgemental. Sometimes what a person may seem on the outside to others isn’t the case and they may be going through more then meets the eye. Good work writing this!

  2. Dear Anna, I appreciate you do not want your blog nor you to be defined by psoriasis but just needed to comment. My ex had psoriasis in her hair so twice a week I would use the appropriate charcoal ointment and work all the excess skin out (usually onto my lap as she laid there). Ironically, it was the best times of the week as it was just us and personal. Never did I look at the psoriasis or her with negativity due to same. If anything it bought us closer and became part of our lives not just hers. I guess I am just trying to say, sometimes these things can be positive with the right person.

    And a massive thank you for showing everyone out there that you can have psoriasis and still be stunning.

  3. I have had my whole body covered in psoriasis . After many years of embarrasment, pain and torture and creams etc and visiting specialists, drs etc i fixed it myself. I gave up Brown bread, onions, sulphar foods such as cheezels, potatoe chips, nuts , cucumber, oranges, 95 % chocolate, mandarins, 99% of my sugar intake which included tomatoe sauce etc , rock melons . Butter and margarine i gave up .I dont drink alcohol, dont drink tea or coffee and dont smoke. I eat mainly fruit and vegetables and lean meat and chicken and a piece of fish on rare occasions. I drink mainly water and milk and NOT cool drink or FJ. I make my own FJ by using 100% fruit NO sugars.. I use only natural sea salt BUT only to put onto a meat etc I dont cook in salt .I only eat white bread approx 2 pieces per day .Less sugar in them the better .I eat whit rolls ocassionally. I use extra virgin olive oil. I also soak my arms 2 times per day in salt water. In doing this i use approx 1 KG of salt per week in soaking my arms . I salt the water in a container in the morning and dissolve it and i then soak my arms for 15 minutes and then when i take them out of the salt water i let my arms dry naturally . I repeat this at lunch time and then during the evening. Why soak my arms ?.. well the skin on them became so weak , if i accidently pressed the skin too hard my skin would break out in huge red marks as though someone had hit me with a cricket bat. So now after soaking them in the salt water the skin has become tougher but i still soak them and now if i accidently hit my arm ie on a door or something hard the marks rareley appear if at all. I use the same salt water i used in the morning for lunch soaking and evening soaking then tip it out and put new salt water in the next day .
    I figured out with my psoriasis that it has a lot to do with what i was eating and drinking. My kidneys and liver must be enjoying my new diet. Just about everyday people who know me are so surprised at my skins lack of psoriasis . I also sleep in thick ACTIL BRAND cotton sheets / pillow slips only cotton , cost approx $180 per set . I found other type of sheets were contributing to my psoriasis . I also wear cotton clothes, socks etc . I avoid if possible other types of fabrics. Over heating alos contibutes to psoriasis . If the psoriasis appears it starts near my ankles but i know i have broken my diet ( chocolate ) and i quickly change and i use on a couple of spots an ointment ( from my Dr ) named Eleuphrat ONLY for my body NOT my it would tear my face apart. For my face i use Hydrozole. The tubes are 30 g each and last me for months IF the psoriasis breaks out .

    My Drs said my psoriasis was the worst they had seen . The are amazed what i did and did say because it worked for me it may not work for others. I also lost a lot of weight, i figured the extra fat i had wasnt good for me but helping the psoriasis . Even my son who is a Dr is shocked . He didnt recognise me as we had not seen him for 3 yrs , only photos etc and my wife has visited him out of our state but i didnt visit him. i was too ashamed too travel etc . She was on strict advice from me not to tell him what i was doing. lol .When we visited him last Xmas , yes i flew interstate , He looked at me , he walked straight passed me at the airport , he didnt know who i was , , his look at me when he realised who i , was priceless .
    i AM NOT in anyway associated with any of the brands i have named . It was over a period of years i experimented with fabrics, medications etc .
    Good luck

  4. I am surprised and pleased to see this story, putting a face to the skin condition psoriasis. I have had this disease for 34 years, since I was twenty. And all of this true, you don’t wear black, you wear nail polish every day, in my case my nails are lifted from the nail bed on most nails and is not nice for people to see. I have to have surgery on my toenails because they have curled and are deformed and will probably have to be removed. The pain in the toes is bad and affects the way I walk, so I have a slightly strange gait. No nail polish can hide this, and wearing closed shoes has become painful, but when I wear sandals people stare and look disgusted. I have it on my scalp too, and it itches all the time. This may sound pretty bad, but I am thankful I have a mild form of the disease. Some people have flare ups that leave them in the burns unit. Others, like my grandmother stay indoors and stop social activities because of the embarrassment, that was sad.

  5. Thank you so much for this article. I have had psoriasis for 20+ years now. I live with it now and notice less when people look and look away. My daughter (who is 10) promises me that when she grows up she will become a medical researcher and find a cure for her dads skin thing. Hope you can wait till then :-).

  6. Mine is covering 70% of my body now. Im 41. Since.i was 10 ive had this and when the dermatologist told me, i had no idea it was a life sentence. Thanks for.helping me feel brave.
    Lots of love from Vegas.
    Get some salt water in for me?

  7. I feel you Anna. I’ve dealt with Chronic Psoriasis for a long time and have never found a cure.
    Luckily, Most of my psoriasis isn’t visible (except in my scalp and the back of my head and elbows, fingernails).
    But even if it’s not visible, you know it’s there and sometimes, especially in hot weather..or sometimes even cold weather or changing whether, it loves to flare up .

    I’ve just decided to ignore it and use hydrocortisone during the times it starts flaring up, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve never gotten rid of it on my scalp. I’m actually about ready to start doing Vlogging myself am looking forward to just…being me.

  8. Very honest and brave of you to share this. I never knew, thought the leggings and gloves were just a fashion statement. Clearly you are a beautiful person inside and out!

  9. I am a 52 year old male with psoriasis. It first appeared on Grad night the day before I got out of high school. As the years have gone on it has gotten progressively worse. I always swore that if I ever saved enough I’d move to somewhere like Playa Del Carmen and lay on the beach every day, as constant sun on my skin is a big improvement, tanning. I did not go off and travel just because of my skin issues. While I was fortunate for a long time that it was only on my back, thighs, and torso, it was easy to wear shorts and hawaiian shirts and only my friends and relatives knew…Now, it has spread to my arms chest, and upper butt/waist area….It is a disability as bad or worse than most others but not understood by either most people, insurance companies, or our own state governments…if it were I’d collect disability and be far better off getting a tan most days…And having an incredibly positive attitude….I am really happy to find someone who understands, as my own wife never did, and still has managed to overcome her psoriasis …May You Be Blessed and Safe, Happy and Cured!

  10. Thanks for sharing this. I will help me near future. Frequently I travel with my family. I will keep in mind this experience. Really it’s an impressive article. Hope we will get such nice and informative article in near future.

  11. Thank you so much for this valuable information.

    It is people like you that really make a difference in the lives of people with psoriasis.

    I suffered for 12 years from psoriasis and nothing I tried worked.

    Drugs, nutrition, all types of doctors…you name it–the suffering never really went away.

    Fortunately, I found out about a natural way that finally got rid of my psoriasis for good.

    Hope it helps and keep up the good work!

  12. I’ve dealt with Psoriasis for 50 years. I’ve been to countless Dermatologists, tried numerous treatments, from the funny to the ridiculous and nothing worked until now. One week after using dermalmd psoriasis serum, my hands were completely clear. My feet are taking a bit longer, but I’m sure with the results I’m seeing, will be healed soon. Recommended !!

  13. Aww thank you for being an inspiration to me. I think you are absolutely gorgeous and you have no idea how much you have inspired me to be brave and find the strength and courage within me to be comfortable in my skin this summer. Thank you for being brave for us!

  14. Thanks for sharing your story/experience living and traveling with psoriasis. I can relate in a way… I do not have psoriasis but it’s the focus of my research into newer/better treatments or cures. It’s an interesting disease, tough to treat and affects so many people! I also live with chronic illnesses – currently it’s my lungs (bleb disease, causes the lungs to collapse) that affect me the most. I went from training 20+ hours a week and racing Ironman triathlons, to being out of breath walking through a park. Not to mention the pain that comes with it.

    My question is this… how do you handle medications, doctors appts, insurance, etc while traveling the world full time? I’d love to quit my job and explore the world, but I can’t imagine giving up my health insurance. I’ve needed 3 surgeries in the last 4 years not to mention all the meds, tests, appts, etc probably totaling $500,000 worth of (U.S.) health care that cost me less than $20,000 out of pocket. It’s scary to think I wouldn’t have that if I wanted to travel full time and work odd jobs here and there as needed.

    • Here’s the thing… I don’t travel the world full-time. I’ve never had and I hate the idea for various reasons. I’ve always had bases in some countries where I worked, studied and lived before the blog. Since starting my blog I’ve been based in the Netherlands, Mexico and the US from which I take shorter trips to other places. Also, psoriasis doesn’t need surgeries so that’s slightly different.

      I’ve been treated for it in various places, but at some point with psoriasis you need to become like your own doctor – research new medicine and see what works and what doesn’t since etc. Biologic drugs aren’t available in Europe (apart from certain cases in the UK, but practically it’s impossible to get it regardless of any insurance) and even methotrexate (chemo drug that it’s used instead of biologic drugs outside of the US) isn’t available in all European countries. So I got it in Mexico since it’s prescription free (funnily enough it costs $4 and in the US the same drug costs $65) and just monitor my blood. That’s basically it 😉

  15. So I go to the doctor because I psoriasis… My doctor said, “Wow! Did you have a face lift?” No kidding the doctor could see the difference in my skin. I was using the Made from Earth Rooibos Tea Day Moisturizer. I am so thankful for finding this moisturizer for my psoriasis. The moisturizer has cleared up the dry, red, irritated skin around my eyebrows, cheeks and chin that I have struggled with for decades.
    It is a new product. The jar lasts about 2-3 months of daily use.

  16. This was such an honest and thoughtful post. My mum has psoriasis so even though I don’t personally know what it is like to deal with it, I have watched someone close deal with it my whole life and I know it isn’t fun. But you’re right, just need to embrace yourself. I’m going to send this to my mum to read x

  17. I can really empathise with this! I’m a guy who has Seborric Dermatitis, which is humid and hot conditions is a nightmare. Having a beard has made it even worse….

    It’s got so bad over the years, that not only do I cover my clothes and anything I touch with dead skin, but my ears now block every 1-2 months due to the skin in my ear canals. I fight a constant battle of thinking people think I have a deadly disease, agonising itchiness and intermittant periods of deafness. I love travel, so I put up with this (all doctors say it is just something I have to live with). I completely understand how no one really understands that having a condition that detracts from the one thing you love doing can be really depressing.

  18. Dziekuje za Twoj profil i blog b mnie wzruszyl.. podrozuje od 2008, i marze by wiecej – nawet w najgorszej sytuacji bez niczego wyjexdzalam na wknd gdzies – ale dopiero od 2 tyg zaczynam na insta; blog dopiero buduje , mam tylko iphone 7 + , i nie mam tak jak wielu tu boyfriend to take all my pics… Po czytaniu Twojego bloga i hope that maybe one day i ll build mine too! BTW – why comment here: I have atopic dermatitis – bleeding cuts etc any time i travel on eyes face hands etc 😉 you know the drill. nails etc..(( and i work in acting /modelling, when every travel makes my skin inflame..)) now i m all alone w no one to help or believe i COULD make it as a blogger or on instagram & yes it is soo saturated!! so thank you so much for your tips! and all this blog

  19. I was recently diagnosed with psoriasis after developing a red rash on my eyelids. Being a sensitive area, I went to the doctor for a recommendation. He prescribed a topical steroid cream, which has a host of side effects. I used it as prescribed for a few months, but the redness would quickly return upon discontinuing use of the steroid.

    Not wanting to stay on steroids long term, I found dermal md psoriasis serum on google and gave it a whirl. It COMPLETELY cleared all the redness and my eyelids are back to normal! I just put a small dab on each eyelid nightly. It works wonders!!

  20. Girl, I had no idea, and am actually quite excited to read this! I’m not alone! I just got diagnosed with an auto-immune condition…unresolvable ulcers in my digestive system. It’s going to be a lifetime struggle, so from this point on is going to make traveling a LOT more difficult…especially with my thru-hike of New Zealand. I’ve been planning this trip for a decade and now I’m having to actually find doctors that can treat me in-country and give me my medicines (due to custom laws, I can bring my full prescription). What a riot it’s becoming…. sarcasm implied.

    But I’m so excited that I actually know a writer who has gone through the wickets and really understands. Thanks for helping me feel like someone out there has got my back.

  21. I was teary eyed when i was reading it because i felt exactly the same thing with everything that you’ve said from your article! This article helped me realize that i am not alone dealing with psoriasis and that i don’t have to be ashamed of my skin every time i go out. Thank you for writing this article it really felt something!!


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