Warm weather often spells relief from psoriasis. Sunlight helps reduce skin patches, and higher humidity improves dry skin. Yet spring and summer can also make you anxious about showing so much bare skin. Use these tips to make the most of balmy days when you have psoriasis.
Get Some Sun
Sunlight is the top reason psoriasis symptoms improve during summer. Controlled “doses” of sunlight have the same benefits as light therapy. To sun smartly:
- Sunbathe for about five minutes a day and gradually increase the time up to 15 minutes. Put sunscreen on all parts of your body except on your psoriasis patches.
- Getting sunburned can trigger psoriasis flares, so never stay out for more than 15 minutes.
- If you're going to be in the sun for longer than 15 minutes, put sunscreen on your psoriasis patches. Choose brands designed for sensitive skin. They're less likely to irritate your psoriasis.
Go for a Swim
Swimming, especially in salt water, sloughs off dead skin and improves the appearance of psoriasis. Still, both salt water and chlorinated water can leave skin dry and flakey. After swimming, rinse off well and put on a gentle moisturizer.
Heat and perspiration can make your psoriasis worse, especially on your face and scalp. Air conditioning can spare you from sweating, but it also tends to dry out skin. If you spend a lot of time in air conditioning, moisturize with a heavy cream or ointment once or twice a day.
Wear Loose, Breathable Clothing
If you want to hide a flare-up or recently had phototherapy, cover up. (Phototherapy may make your psoriasis look worse for a short time. Your skin may become red and itchy.) Wear loose-fitting, sun-protective cotton clothing – white’s a great color if you have scalp psoriasis because it hides flakes.
Prevent Insect Bites
Mosquito and other insect bites can aggravate psoriasis. So can insect repellents that contain DEET. The best prevention is to wear long-sleeve shirts with long pants, and stay indoors at dusk, when insects are most active. Citronella candles can help keep mosquitoes away. If you need a repellent, try a new brand that contains little or no DEET. Ask your dermatologist for a recommendation.
Take a Vacation From Stress
Anxiety worsens psoriasis symptoms. Take advantage of activities that can relieve stress. Go on a vacation and leave work and its pressures behind. At home, do things that help you relax – like a hike or working in the garden. Both you and your psoriasis will have a good summer.