Can Weather Affect Your Psoriatic Arthritis?

Many people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) notice that their symptoms get better or worse based on the weather. But it affects everyone differently.

If this happens with you, tell your doctor. The more they know about your PsA, the better they can help you.

Changes in Air Pressure

When a cold or warm front is headed your way, the barometric pressure (pressure caused by the weight of the air) changes. This can make tissues throughout your body bigger or smaller, and that can put painful pressure on your muscles and nerves. Even a small change in air pressure can trigger an arthritis flare-up.

But it doesn’t last. Once new weather arrives, your pain should ease up.

Cold

It’s not an old wives’ tale that people with arthritis “feel the cold coming on.” Cold weather may make it feel as if the fluid in your joints is thicker. This makes them stiffer than normal and more painful to move. One study found that for every 10 degrees the temperature drops outside, the more joint pain and stiffness you’re likely to feel.

Most of your body heat is lost through your head, hands, and feet, so keep those body parts covered up when you’re outside. Wear a scarf, gloves, hat, and thick socks under your boots or shoes.

While you might not want to work out when it’s chilly, it’s best to keep active. (Indoor workouts may be just the ticket.) Exercise keeps your joints stretchy so they’re less likely to hurt.

Sun

Some people think their psoriasis gets better when they’re out in the sun. This may well be the case, because ultraviolet (UV) light has been shown to tamp down your immune system and the effects it has on your skin.

Start with short amounts of time in the sunshine to see if that helps, and always wear sunscreen on areas that aren’t affected. Use one that’s 30 SPF or higher. And be careful not to stay out in the sun too long. Even a slight sunburn could have the opposite effect and make your psoriasis worse. Too much UV light can also lead to other health problems like skin cancer.

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Dry Air

This makes your skin dry, which can bring on a psoriasis flare. Dry air often goes hand in hand with lower temps and less sunlight, but air conditioning can parch your skin, too.

A humidifier in your home or office can help, and it’s a good idea to limit showers to no more than 10 minutes with warm, not hot, water. Use a gentle cleanser rather than soap. Once you get out, pat your skin dry and use a thick cream to lock in moisture.

Humidity

Rainy or muggy weather can make your skin symptoms worse, though many people just notice that it makes their joints stiff and achy. Some people with PsA feel humid weather affects them as much as very dry air, but more research is need to back that up. Humid, cold weather may be the worst combo for your joints.

Stay up on the forecast so you can be prepared. Try not to let any soreness keep you from your normal workout -- cutting back on exercise will only make your pain worse. Yoga or even easy stretches at home are good ways to stay limber.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 22, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Western Australia: “Aches and Pains During Cold and Wet Weather."

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Frequently Asked Questions: Psoriasis in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.”

Journal of Dermatology and Clinical Research: “Food and Humidity Triggers in Patients with Psoriatic Arthropathy.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Your Local Weather,” “Living with Arthritis Blog: Weather and Arthritis Pain.”

Cleveland Clinic: “The Weather and Arthritis: Does Rain Increase Pain?” “Can Your Joints Predict the Weather?”

The American Journal of Medicine: “Changes in Barometric Pressure and Ambient Temperature Influence Osteoarthritis Pain.”

NHS: “Living with Psoriasis.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Psoriasis: Tips for Managing,” “Are triggers causing your psoriasis flare-ups?”

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance: “Psoriasis and the Sun.”

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