Psoriasis and the sun have a complicated relationship. Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that leaves dry, flaky, painful patches on the skin. Some people may see improvements during the warmer months, while others may see their symptoms worsen. But these inconsistencies shouldn’t keep you in the house when the weather starts to improve. Here are some tips for you to enjoy those bright and sunny days while living with psoriasis.
Sun exposure can actually be really great at improving psoriasis symptoms. This is because the sun emits UVB rays that slow the growth of these abnormal skin cells, making your dry patches reduce or even completely disappear in some cases. Some people who don’t live in sunny areas sometimes attempt to mimic these results by using artificial UVB light in a process known as phototherapy. However, the summer months give those suffering from psoriasis the chance to get exposure to these healing rays naturally from the sun.
The amount of time in which you’re exposed to the sun matters a great deal. Spending too much time soaking up the sun’s rays can cause further damage to your skin and irritation. It can even lead to psoriasis plaques forming in new areas due to sun damage. In order to prevent this from happening, you’ll want to limit your exposure to about 5 minutes at a time. You’ll also want to protect the rest of your body by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to prevent sunburn and overall damage to unaffected areas of your skin.
While psoriasis symptoms can sometimes improve with sunlight exposure, it’s important to remember that being hot and sweaty can actually trigger these symptoms. This is especially true for people who have inverse psoriasis, which is where red, smooth patches of skin pop up in areas where skin rubs together. If this is the kind of psoriasis you are dealing with, then you might need to take extra precautions to be sure that you're protecting your skin from the elements that may irritate it.
Try to beat the heat as you’re enjoying the sunshine. Head inside if you feel yourself become overheated and try to stay inside on extremely hot days. If you can’t avoid the heat, then keep a cloth nearby so that you can wipe away excess sweat from your face, hairline, and anywhere else that you may typically notice psoriasis symptoms. Also, be aware that air conditioners can be very drying to the skin, so you’ll want to stay moisturized and drink lots of water if you need to be in these areas over long periods of time. It might even be beneficial to invest in getting a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.
Swimming is a great activity that keeps you cool and lets you enjoy some of that summer sun. The salt from the ocean can be a great exfoliant and can wash away some of the dead skin on your plaques. Just be sure to use a lotion or moisturizer once you get out of the water so that your skin doesn’t dry out. If you just got done swimming in chlorinated water, then you might want to wash your body to protect your skin from negatively responding to the harsh chemicals. And always make sure to apply your sunscreen liberally and reapply often to combat it washing off in the water.
Protect Your Skin
Protecting your skin from damage can be a lot of work during the summertime, especially if you have psoriasis. You need to protect yourself from sun damage, bug bites, scrapes, bruises, and all of the other common afflictions that tend to come with the warm weather. These things have the potential to worsen your psoriasis symptoms, and the damage left on your non-affected areas may be replaced with uncomfortable plaques.
Wearing the right clothes can go a long way in keeping your skin safe from the elements. Lots of people living with psoriasis often opt for clothing with more coverage to hide some of their flare-ups, which can also be an effective way to protect your skin from sun damage and bug bites. If you choose to go this route, there are a few things to consider before choosing your clothes for time out in the sun. Try to go for lightweight fabrics that will keep you cool. Long sleeve shirts made of cotton, linen, chambray, or mesh are wonderful for keeping you cool, and long skirts and wide-legged pants can let you enjoy the summer breeze.
Summer is also the time when most people try to shed some layers and show as much skin as possible. If this is what you’re going for, then remember to use plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage. It’s also a good idea to wear insect repellent to keep bugs from biting and stinging you. Try lightly spraying it on your clothes if you find the repellent to be irritating. You could also buy insect repellent candles, wall fans, and electric bug zappers to keep pests away. If all else fails, try to stay indoors at the times that you know these bugs are most likely to be outside.
Psoriasis and the sun can be a wonderful duo when they work together. With a little diligence and planning ahead, you can enjoy everything the summer has to offer.