Unpredictable and irritating, psoriasis is one of the most baffling and persistent of skin disorders. It's characterized by skin cells that multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. As underlying cells reach the skin's surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with white scales. Psoriasis typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp, and it can also affect the torso, palms, and soles of the feet.
The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type...
Here are answers to seven frequently asked questions about psoriasis in fall and winter.
Why do my psoriasis signs and symptoms get worse in the fall and winter?
Dry air and low levels of exposure to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays likely cause worsening psoriasis symptoms during fall and winter.
Not only are the winter days shorter, but most people tend to spend less time outside. And, when they do brave the elements, they’re usually bundled up from head to toe. All of these things add up to much less ultraviolet light from the sun, which eases psoriasis in spring and summer.
Experts believe that ultraviolet light hinders the rapid growth of skin cells that is characteristic of psoriasis. So you may find that your psoriasis is more likely to flare and your plaques worsen when you spend less time in the sun.
Also, the lack of humidity in the air outside and the dry heat in most buildings during the colder months can rob your skin of the moisture it needs. You may be able to alleviate dryness-related psoriasis symptoms by regularly moisturizing your skin and using a humidifier at home. If possible, humidify your office, too.
How can I safely get the ultraviolet light my skin needs?
Definitely don’t go running off to the tanning booth -- there are safer ways to get your psoriasis-easing ultraviolet rays.
The medical use of light rays to treat psoriasis is known as phototherapy. A variety of options exist, which can be done in a doctor’s office, psoriasis clinic, or even the comfort of your home.
The form of light known as ultraviolet light B (UVB) seems to be the most beneficial for treating psoriasis. Your doctor may prescribe a certain amount of UVB exposure depending on your symptoms. If your doctor does choose this form of light therapy for your psoriasis, ask whether you should consider purchasing a home UVB unit.