Many people with psoriasis look forward to the warmer weather months. The warm, moist air of spring and summer can help to relieve dryness and itching, and sunshine helps to improve skin symptoms.
Even though spring and summer are gentler on your skin, there are still some precautions you should take to keep psoriasis flares at bay. Here are some tips for managing psoriasis during the warm weather months.
Living with Plaque Psoriasis
Benefits of Sunlight for Psoriasis
UVB rays from the sun may help treat psoriasis symptoms by slowing down skin growth and shedding. In fact, research has shown that sun exposure can reduce local and systemic (all-over) inflammation in people with psoriasis.
While sunlight can benefit people with psoriasis, you still need to take care to protect your ininvolved skin from the sun. A study reported in 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that people with psoriasis have an increased risk for melanoma as compared to others in the general population. UV radiation from the sun is associated with skin cancer, including melanoma.
It is difficult to monitor how much sunlight one gets in natural sun, which may put patients at risk for sunburns. Phototherapy, a medical treatment overseen by your healthcare provider, allows for safe, short periods of UVB light; a great treatment for psoriasis.
Be aware that a sunburn increases your risk for a flare-up—a period where psoriasis symptoms are worsened. Some of the medications you may take to treat psoriasis—including biologics—can cause photosensitivity, a condition in which the skin is more sensitive to ultraviolet rays from the sun and other light sources, such as indoor fluorescent lighting.
Because of the effect that sun exposure may have on you, you should take extra precautions to protect your skin. If you are using sunlight as a treatment, start with 10-minute exposure around noon. Then you can increase your exposure by 30-second increments daily. Of course, before you consider using natural sunlight as a treatment for psoriasis, ask your healthcare provider if it is an appropriate treatment for you.
When you are out in the sun, you will want to protect your skin. When outdoors, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to areas of skin not affected by psoriasis patches and wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
Protect Skin From Bugs and Cuts
Work towards avoiding warmer weather hazards, such as bugs and poison ivy. If you fall and scrape your skin, make sure you clean and dress the wound.
Up to a fourth of people with psoriasis may experience the Koebner phenomenon. This is when a skin disorder occurs at the site of injury on the skin. The Koebner phenomenon is more common in people with psoriasis although not everyone with psoriasis will experience it. But it does seem to be more likely during psoriasis flares. In people with psoriasis, the Koebner phenomenon may cause psoriasis plaques in or around the injured area. Patches may follow the shape of a cut, bruise, or insect bite.
To avoid injuries or bug bites, wear long sleeves and protective clothing when outdoors or working in a garden. If you get a scrape or bug bite, don’t pick at your skin, as this can make things worse.
Be Careful With Shaving
Summertime usually means shaving more often for both men and women. Razor nicks and cuts can worsen psoriasis. Be extra careful when shaving by wetting the area first and then shaving in the direction hair is growing. If you are finding you often get cut during shaving, you could consider laser hair removal.
Avoid Skin Products with Alcohol and Fragrances
Skin products containing alcohol and fragrances can irritate and dry out skin, especially in heat and humidity. Look for products that moisturize without these added ingredients.
Apply moisturizers generously and often. Moisturizers can help protect your skin and keep it hydrated. It is especially important to apply moisturizer after being out in the sun or spending time in air conditioning, as both can dry out skin.
Take up Swimming
Swimming a great warm-weather activity. Especially if you swim in salt water, swimming can help get rid of dead skin and improve the appearance of psoriasis scales. However, both salt water and chlorinated water from swimming pools can leave your skin dry and flaky. After swimming, rinse off your skin, pat dry, and generously apply a gentle moisturizer.
Limit Time Outside on High Humid Days
Being overheated and excessively sweaty may increase the chance for a flare or worsen psoriasis symptoms. Stay in air-conditioned spaces on very hot days. And because air conditioning can dry out skin, remember to apply moisturizer daily.
Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
Lightweight clothing, especially cotton fabrics, is less likely to irritate your skin or cause you to overheat. Also, consider wearing open and roomy shoes.
Take the Time to Relax
The spring and summer seasons are great for relaxation. Make time each day to do something that relaxes you. This can be anything from working in your garden, taking a swim or a walk, or sitting outdoors and reading. If you find you are stressed often, try deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation in your daily routine.
Cut Down on Alcohol
It is common during the summer months to want to indulge in an alcoholic beverage while you are out enjoying the nice weather with family and friends. But drinking too much can reduce the effectiveness of psoriasis treatments and even induce flares and the potential for adverse events.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase inflammation and affect other health conditions, including heart disease and depression, this according to a 2013 study reported in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology.
A Word From Get Meds Info
Regardless of the season, it is important to make sure you stick to the treatment plan your healthcare provider has prescribed for you. This includes using all topical treatments and taking oral medications to control psoriasis symptoms, boost your immune system, and slow down skin cell growth. It is also important to stick to a healthy diet low in processed flour, gluten, caffeine, sugar and dairy, as diet can also trigger flares.