It’s that wonderful time of the year where we leave our home comforts behind to reside in a field for a few days of camping, live music and summer festivities. However, when living with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis, trying to pack a light load can become a bit more difficult, so, here is some advice on how you can keep yourself cool and prepared for the festival season.
Keep calm and stay cool
The location of your festival and the time of year can make a huge difference to the weather conditions you’ll experience. For example, when I went to Download Festival back in June I enjoyed two glorious days of sun followed by three days of heavy rain – resulting in the renaming, Drownload. So, be prepared for the best and the worst.
Many of us feel uneasy when showing our skin, making life harder when the sun is shining. So what can you do about it? Well, you can do as I did this year and bite the bullet. The likelihood of you seeing all of those people again is very slim and to be honest, most people at festivals are there for one reason, the same reason as you, to have an amazing time, see the bands they love and escape reality for a few days. You are entitled to do exactly the same and if anyone has a problem with that, poor them. However, showing off your Psoriasis is easier said than done, so if you really do want to avoid it then here are some options.
Now, there is a generic “festival” look which most believe you have to follow, but when it comes down to it, comfort is the most important thing. To cover your arms, look for light coloured shirts in a breathable fabric such as cotton, linen, chambray or rayon. Most high street stores provide such items this time of year so they aren’t hard to come by. When the weather starts to get a little chilly choose a light cardigan or jacket and for rain, your safest option is to carry around a waterproof poncho. They are easy to pack away and still allow you to keep cool with the freedom of movement. For those awkward patches under the breasts I recommend wearing a bikini top or a tube top as this will help your skin to breathe more easily and will also feel a lot more comfortable.
Legs can be covered with long flowing skirts, which helps to get some air and keep you cool. If you don’t mind your Psoriasis showing a little, then thin tights with some shorts is another option (if you’re lucky enough to have mud then wellies will cover the bottom half of your legs) and if it is a bit cooler then leggings under shorts also works – or just trousers. The tricky part is night time and early morning. Tents can get very warm, however, when the temperature drops it can become cold very quickly. My advice is to wear a strappy top and some shorts and make sure you have a warm sleeping bag – if you’re sharing a tent then you’ll find you’ll stay warmer than you expected. I like to have a pair of sweatpants and a jumper by my bed ready for the morning when I need to make a dash to the toilet, or to go and get some fresh air.
Hats are always a good idea, especially for those of you suffering with scalp Psoriasis. Although it’s great to get some sun on your skin from time-to-time, it is important that you don’t let yourself burn. This will only irritate your skin even more and of course there are other health risks to think about. As I said, when it comes down it, comfort is the most important thing. You don’t have to look like you’re wearing hundreds of unflattering layers. Just have a look around shops and think of the different options available to you.
Eat as often and as well as you can and STAY HYDRATED
There are SO many places to eat at festivals but unfortunately it will cost you, so unless you have stacks of money to take with you then think about stocking up on little, easy to pack snacks before you leave. Anything which needs to be refrigerated won’t come in handy, but having some breakfast bars, nuts, or dried fruit to keep on yourself or in your tent will always come in handy, especially late at night or in the morning when you feel a bit peckish. Obviously eating time-to-time at the little food huts provided is a good idea, but have a look at your options and try to buy things which will keep you going. If worse comes to worst then there are always little shops and supermarkets to provide you with the basics.
More importantly, stay hydrated. This is a must, especially if you’re walking around in the boiling sun all day. You’ll find you do a lot more walking at festivals especially if the campsite is miles away from the arena and car park. Also, festivals are a great time to indulge in a lot of alcohol, which again will lead to further dehydration. I find the easiest way to keep a good supply of water is to make sure you have some empty water bottles with you – have one for walking around and keep one in your tent – and then try to camp near to a watering point. This helps for when you wake feeling extremely thirsty but also very achy and don’t want to walk miles. Just be sure to make sure the water is fresh and hasn’t been left in the heat for too long.
Get to know where First Aid/Pharmacy points are
First aid points and pharmacies at festivals are fantastic and will (normally) stock a lot of what you need. When you arrive, make sure you know where they are in case of any emergencies. Also, take the time to get to know the staff and even discuss your health conditions with them so that they can help you as much as possible. Remember, not everyone is aware of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis and a lot of the people who work at festivals are volunteers. If you’re like me and don’t have the room to carry your huge tubs of lotion, have a look around chemists before you leave, because above all, you need to stay moisturised. The longer you leave it (and unless you want to keep paying for showers) the worse your skin will get. In most places you can buy small travelling basics and a lot of them come as a deal.
With this in mind, keep yourself fresh and clean with sanitiser (great for when you have to use the horrid loos) and face wipes (perfect for a quick morning wash and keeping your face clean and cool). You can also buy small bottles of shower foam and face spray which help to keep you clean and fresh throughout the festival. If you take medication, buy yourself a small first aid kit, remove any of the items you won’t need and put the amount of medication you will need inside to keep it safe…it will also remind you where it is as it’s very easy to lose the little things in a tent.
Help those aches and pains
If you struggle with Psoriatic Arthritis then you will understand the aches and pains that come from it and sleeping for possibly five nights in a tent can make this much worse. To help with this, invest in a blow up bed and some blow up pillows. They’re very comfortable and are easier to pack away than your standard pillows. Try some basic and gentle stretches before going to bed and when you get up in the morning.
The change in heat during the night can make joints very stiff – this is also another good reason to make sure you don’t get too cold or too hot. I find that if you wake with a positive mood then it will help kick start the rest of your body, so, I like to wake up, do some small stretches then find the closest place to buy a cup of tea – the walk also helps to get everything moving. If you’re able to use certain gels on your joints, then make sure you carry some round with you for an extra bit of relief.
Most importantly of all, take care and have fun
We all work differently and use different things to keep ourselves going, but as someone diagnosed with Psoriasis who enjoys a great festival these are some of my tips. Whatever you do this summer, just make sure you take care of yourself and have fun, and remember, you are strong and you are wonderful.
This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
UK/IE MAT-04361. Date of Prep: August 2016