Many people with psoriasis look forward to the summertime because they get some relief from symptoms. Normally, our skin sheds and creates new cells every 30 days. Psoriasis occurs when the cell process speeds up and new cells are created too quickly, causing a build-up of skin cells. Sunlight helps to slow down this process, making psoriasis outbreaks lessen during the summer. Humidity also helps, keeping the skin moister than the dry air of wintertime.
Summertime also brings some complications, over-exposure to the sun can damage skin and trigger psoriasis outbreaks. Some medications and topical psoriasis treatments can make you more sensitive to the sun’s rays. And for some people, the heat of summer itself is a trigger for their psoriasis and cause flare ups.
The following tips can help you manage your psoriasis during the hot summer months:
Limit sun exposure. While sun exposure can help to reduce psoriasis outbreaks, over-exposure can damage skin and cause your psoriasis to worsen. Limit time in direct sunlight to 30 minutes or less and try to be out in the sun before noon or after 2:00 P.M. when the sun is not as strong.
Continue to use sunblock. Some people with psoriasis choose to go without sunblock, believing this will help them reduce psoriasis symptoms, but, again, overexposure can cause flare-ups and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Continue to use a broad spectrum sunscreen (that protects from both UVA and UVB rays) whenever you are out in the sun.
Enjoy the water. Summertime is a great time to take a dip in the pool, lake or ocean and having psoriasis shouldn’t stop you from doing so. The hydrating effect of being in the water can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis so jump in and enjoy the water. Remember to rinse off after being in chlorinated or salt water and reapply sunscreen and a moisturizer immediately after to help lock in the moisture.
Use moisturizer when in air conditioning. Air conditioning can dry out your skin. Make sure you apply a moisturizer during and after being in air conditioned places.
Take steps to prevent skin injuries and bug bites. Damage to your skin can cause psoriasis flare ups. Apply insect repellants with caution; avoid those with extra fragrance and look for one with low DEET concentration. If possible, use citronella candles to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects. Use long sleeve shirts and long pants and use insect repellant only on exposed areas.
Shower or cool off often. Perspiration can irritate the skin, possibly one reason why some people with psoriasis find it more difficult to manage in the summertime. Rinse sweat off by taking a cool shower or stay inside during the heat of the day to keep your skin cool. If you must be outside, bring moistened wipes or a washcloth with you to wipe perspiration from your skin.
Use stress relief techniques. Our worries and stresses don’t go away just because it is summertime and research shows a link between stress and psoriasis outbreaks. Keep up daily relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, medication and exercise.