Psoriasis Sun Protection Advice: What to Use
To maintain the benefits of sun exposure while preventing problems, Marmur recommends liberal use of sunscreen, or, if possible, a sunblock, for complete protection.
"A lot of people don't realize that sunscreen only offers protection from UVA rays -- to get protection from both UVA and UVB rays you need to use a sunblock, which not only reduces your risk of skin cancer, but also prevents the kind of cell damage that causes psoriasis to flare," says Marmur.
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.