If you’re one of the 7.5 million Americans living with psoriasis—the most common autoimmune disease in the country—summer can be a blessing and a challenge. Psoriasis often improves with warm weather, but many people with psoriasis are also self-conscious about showing their skin.
While symptoms of psoriasis may improve due to extra sunlight and increased humidity, it’s important to make sure psoriasis doesn’t flare. Here are some tips from the National Psoriasis Foundation to help keep your skin healthy.
Limited sun exposure
Sunlight can be beneficial for psoriasis. As with any treatment regimen, be sure to talk with your doctor as they can recommend the appropriate amount of sunlight. They can also caution you about how the sunlight may affect your current psoriasis treatments. Some medications may be inactivated by sunlight, while others may make you more susceptible to sunburns and side effects.
In addition to skin cancer risk, sunburn can worsen existing psoriasis or cause new plaques, known as the Koebner effect. Avoid overexposure and wear sunscreen on areas without psoriasis. Experts suggest starting with just a few minutes of sun at a time and gradually increasing exposure if your skin tolerates it. Look for water and sweat-resistant, fragrance-free sunscreens and wear sun-protective clothing when outdoors for longer periods of time. Read more about sunlight and psoriasis.
Beware of bug bites
Bug bites and poison oak/ivy can also trigger psoriasis. To protect from bug bites, cuts and scrapes that could worsen psoriasis, apply an insect repellent with little or no DEET. Covering up can help, too. Loose, cotton clothing is best to avoid skin irritation from sweating or itchy fibers.
For many psoriasis patients, salt water and swimming pools can soften skin and plaques. Chlorine can dry out skin, so be sure to shower immediately after swimming with chlorine-removing shampoos and soaps. Apply moisturizer to damp skin to lock in moisture, and try thick creams and ointments, which are more hydrating than lotions. Be careful with hot water and long soaks in hot tubs as they can increase itching and irritation.
Get more information on managing psoriasis in the summer at www.psoriasis.org. Have specific questions? Contact a health educator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.