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Psoriasis in Fall and Winter: 7 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

For some people with psoriasis, fall and winter bring not only shorter days and colder temperatures, but worsening psoriasis symptoms.

Don’t despair. You don’t need to tough it out until spring, counting the days until you get some relief from psoriasis.

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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.

Other phototherapy options for psoriasis treatment include the use of ultraviolet light A (UVA) in conjunction with special medications that respond to these light rays. This is rarely used, however, because it can cause skin cancer.

Looking for a reason to take a getaway to some tropical locale?  It could be just what the doctor ordered to ease your psoriasis symptoms. The beneficial effects of a sunny vacation in the middle of winter could help ease psoriasis symptoms for a few months.

I tend to eat more and drink more alcohol in the fall and winter months. Will this affect my psoriasis?

Alcohol and key foods probably will not trigger a psoriasis flare. Though medical researchers have yet to prove that certain foods cause psoriasis flares, many patients report that eating certain foods seems to worsen their psoriasis. This, though, may be a coincidence. If you notice a regular connection between eating certain foods and increased skin symptoms, ask your doctor whether you can safely eliminate the suspect foods from your diet to assess any changes in your psoriasis.

Alcohol binges are associated with worsening psoriasis. If you tend to smoke when you drink, you might be dealing yourself a double whammy. Evidence indicates that people who smoke tobacco products may be more likely to develop a form of psoriasis that causes pustules to develop on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Researchers have also found a correlation between smoking and more serious forms of psoriasis.

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