Many people with psoriasis look forward to the spring and summer. The warm, moist air helps relieve the dryness and itching and the sunshine helps to lessen psoriasis plaques. Even so, there are some precautions you should take to make sure the warmer seasons don’t cause your psoriasis to flare.
1. Protect your skin from the sun****. Even a mild sunburn can increase your chances of a psoriasis flare. Most dermatologists recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Talk to your doctor about how long you should expose your skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays - some suggest starting with 5 minutes a day without protection, and then using sunscreen on all of your skin.
2. Jump in the water. Many people find swimming soothing and swimming in the salt water of the ocean can help to remove dead skin and reduce your psoriasis symptoms. Keep in mind that swimming, in the ocean and in pools, can dry out your skin. Make sure to take a cool or warm (not hot) shower after swimming and apply a thick moisturizer.
3. Avoid skincare products with scents. Added scents can dry out or irritate the skin. Look for products that contain moisturizers but don’t have added scents.
4. Use moisturizers. Apply moisturizers often and liberally. Moisturizers will help protect the skin and keep your skin hydrated. Be sure to apply moisturizer after being in the sun or spending long periods of time in air conditioning.
5. Protect your skin from bug bites. Summertime is known for mosquitos, bees and other stinging bugs. These bites, no matter how small, are a trauma to your skin and can cause a psoriasis flare. Use insect repellant (with low levels of DEET) or citronella candles when outdoors. Psoriasis lesions often show up about 10 to 14 days after a skin trauma so keep an eye out if you are bitten.
6. Wear light, loose, natural fiber clothing. Cotton and other lightweight fabrics are less likely to irritate the skin or cause you to overheat. Wear shoes made of leather that are open and roomy.
7. Limit your time outdoors on very hot, humid days. Becoming overheated and sweating can increase your chances of a flare or worsen psoriasis symptoms. Be sure to have somewhere with air conditioning you can retreat to when you are feeling overheated, however, remember air conditioning can dry out your skin so be sure to apply your moisturizer.
8. Be careful while shaving****. Summertime usually means women especially shave more often. Razor nicks and cuts, like bug bites, can cause psoriasis to worsen. Take extra care when shaving by wetting the area first and shaving in the direction the hair is growing. If you consistently get nicks or find shaving difficult, look into laser hair removal.
Many people find spring and summer relaxing seasons, filled with fun activities. Luckily, this is great for those with psoriasis as stress is one of the major triggers for psoriasis. Make sure you include activities you find relaxing each day — this might be working in your garden, taking a hike or sitting outdoors and reading a book. If your stress levels are high, include deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation into your daily routine.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.