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Summertime Solutions for Psoriasis

Suffer from psoriasis? Summer can bring relief -- if you know how to protect against a few hidden hazards.

Psoriasis Sun Protection Advice: What to Use continued...

However, she does caution us to avoid heavily fragranced sun products, which, she tells WebMD, can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, choose one with minimal additives, says Marmur, who recommends the "No Add" line of products.

Joyce Fox, MD, co-director of the Psoriasis Support Group of Los Angeles, says you can also seek out a sunscreen containing avobenzone or Parsol, which is not a sunblock but does screen out UVA and UVB rays.

"Everyone should be using these products, but they are essential for those with psoriasis," says Fox, a dermatologist with the Cedar's Sinai Medical Group in Los Angeles.

If you're wondering if it's safe to use self-tanners if you have psoriasis, Fox tells WebMD that it is. However, do be aware that the bronzing coloration can make psoriasis plaques darker and more obvious to the eye.

When Sun Is Not the Answer for Psoriasis

While 90% of psoriasis suffers will see improvement in the summer, about 10% -- those who are extremely sun sensitive -- may find that their condition worsens. For these people, says Strober, the warm humid air of summer can help but staying out of the sun is a must.

Additionally, he says some of the topical as well as the oral medications used to control all types of psoriasis can increase sun sensitivity, which in turn increases the risk of burning with even minimal exposure, as well as exacerbating the risk of a flare.

What to do: "Be certain to check with your dermatologist if your treatment increases sun sensitivity and if so, reduce your exposure time and always wear sun protection," says Strober.

On the flip side, you may be able to reduce your medication in summer, substituting brief sun exposures and the more humid air for part of your treatment. But, says Strober, be sure to check with your dermatologist before cutting down on your medication.

Bug Bites, Chlorine, and Other Summer Hazards

While the moist, humid air of summer is great for skin, it's also a happy atmosphere for an array of insects -- particularly skin nibbling mosquitoes and gnats. And that can be a problem for some psoriasis patients.

"Problems don't necessarily occur from the bite itself, but when you pick at it and scratch your skin you might start a plaque of psoriasis," Fox tells WebMD.

To help avoid problems, she suggests using an insect repellent -- as long as the percentage of the active ingredient DEET is moderately low.

"And use it only on the areas of skin that will be exposed -- and when you can, cover as much of your skin with clothing as possible, which is still the best protection," says Fox.

Marmur agrees and also suggests taking steps to control insects in your environment.

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