The warm, summer weather usually brings welcome relief for people with Psoriasis. Sunlight and warm humid air relieves dry skin and the ultraviolet rays help reduce inflammation. While it’s probably tempting to run out and soak up some healing rays to relieve the condition, the best approach to caring for psoriasis in the summer is a measured approach. Over exposure to sunlight without adequate protection can cause flare-ups and skin cancer
Exposing Psoriasis to the Sun
Sunlight is an effective treatment for psoriasis. Regular, daily doses of UV exposure in short intervals is recommended. Start with brief, five-minute sessions (without sunscreen) and gradually increase your exposure to 15 minutes over the course of the summer. However, longer sessions can cause sunburn and may trigger psoriasis flares. Avoid exposure between the hours of 11am and 4 pm when the sun is the strongest and the rays the most damaging.
If you plan on being outdoors longer, apply sunscreen directly on psoriasis patches as well as healthy skin to protect it too. Choose a sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or more, and make sure the sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection. Remember the rays of the sun can pass through clouds, water, lightweight clothing, glass windows, and can reflect off water and sand. Finally, avoid fragranced sunscreen products since these can irritate the skin.
Other Tips for Caring for Psoriasis in the Summer
Salt water – If you are lucky enough to be near the ocean this summer, take a dip. The salty water softens the skin and sloughs off dead skin cells – improving the appearance of psoriasis. Not near the ocean? Salt water swimming pools do the trick too – or even a soak in a salt bath. A note of caution: salt water (and chlorinated water) can leave skin dry and flakey – be sure to rinse off after a swim or salt bath and apply a gentle moisturizer to affected areas.
Stop Summer pests – Everyone, and everything, comes out to play in the summer – that includes biting insects like mosquitos, gnats and more. Insect bites aggravate everyone, but especially psoriasis suffers. Insect repellents that contain DEET are not an option for psoriasis suffers. If you find yourself outdoors at dusk or dawn (when mosquitoes are most active), try a safe product like Skin-So-Soft’s DEET-free repellant. It repels mosquitoes for 8 hours and provides effective protection against gnats, no-seeums, sand flies and biting midges. You can also wear protective clothing, light citronella candles or simply stay indoors when the bugs are biting.
Wear sun protection clothing – A great way to protect your skin from prolonged exposure to the sun and annoying bugs this summer is to wear sun-protective clothing like those made by Coolibar® that provide SPA 50+ protection, or Reel Legends® long sleeve performance clothing with wicking properties to help keep you UPF30 sun protected and dry. Sun protective clothing can also be a great way to cover the signs of psoriasis or a flare up while staying cool.
Stay cool – Talking of staying cool, if the summer gets too hot, and perspiration is making your psoriasis worse, stay indoors in the cool air to avoid a flare up. Air conditioning will keep you from flaring up but it will also dry your skin out. So when indoors, remember to moisturize with an ointment or rich cream twice a day. If you cannot find a cool refuge, try wiping perspiration from the skin with a damp washcloth, taking a cool shower, or removing perspiration with an unscented, alcohol-free wipe for some relief.
Limit alcohol consumption – A cold beer (or two) on a hot summer day sounds enticing. But if you have psoriasis, your doctor may have told you to limit your alcohol consumption. Many psoriasis patients find that when they drink alcohol, their psoriasis flares. This seems to be an issue more with men than women. The type of drink you choose may also make a difference. In a recent study, only consumption of non-light beer seemed to be associated with the development of psoriasis and/or flare-ups. Light beer, white or red wine, and liquor did not activate the condition, which led the researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston University to suspect the gluten in the beer may be the issue. Either way, limiting alcohol consumption is still a recommended protocol for people with psoriasis.
For more information on Psoriasis, please read our articles below.
- Psoriasis Treatment: Know your Options
- Guttate Psoriais – Is it contagious?
- Nail Psoriasis – Healthy Nail Care at Home
- Psoriasis Pictures