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Can Weather Affect Your Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 12, 2021

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

If you notice that how you feel changes with the weather, tell your doctor. The more they know about what you're going through, the better they can help you.

Weather and Psoriasis

There are conditions that can change how your psoriasis affects you. They include:

Cold. When the temperature dips, it can dry and irritate your skin. That can lead to a flare. To lessen the chances of that, make sure to wear a hat, gloves, waterproof boots, and a warm jacket when the thermometer outside your window goes low.

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 can slow down the excess growth of skin cells. That can help your body make less plaque.

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 SPF 30 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.

Heat. A flare can come about if you get overheated, or if you sweat. When it gets warm, try and stay cool with a fan or air conditioning. But be careful. Air conditioning can dry out your skin, which can bring a flare. So make sure to keep moisturizer on hand if you're spending a lot of time in air-conditioned spaces like your home, office, or car.

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 have the same effect.

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.

Weather and Psoriatic Arthritis

If you have psoriatic arthritis, some conditions may affect your joints, including:

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.

Humidity. Many people notice that rainy or muggy weather 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 to date on your local forecast. That'll help you prepare for whatever Mother Nature might have in store for you.

Show 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," "Taking Care of Your Skin in Summer."

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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