Many people with psoriasis see their skin condition improves during the summer. A dermatology study published in 2015 confirmed that people with psoriasis appear to have clearer skin during the summer. It has been speculated that this happens mainly because of the greater availability of natural ultraviolet light (sunshine) during summer months. The ultraviolet light has immunomodulatory effects at the skin level and medical-grade light therapy has been used for many years for treating psoriasis.
Another reason that might contribute to the improvement of psoriasis during the summer is the fact that this is usually the season when people have their holidays and enjoy more the outdoors. It is known that relaxing activities could help improve psoriasis in those having flares triggered by stress.
Although the symptoms often lessen during the summer months, psoriasis remains a chronic condition and treatment should be continued. People with psoriasis should also be aware that injuries to the skin such as sunburns can still cause flare-ups.
Here are 5 tips to help manage psoriasis symptoms during the warm weather:
Get some sun: Some doctors recommend patients with psoriasis to sunbathe for about 5 minutes a day initially and then to gradually increase the time to 10 - 15 minutes a day. Apply sunscreen on all parts of your body except on the psoriasis lesions. However, if you're going to be in the sun for longer than 15 minutes, apply sunscreen on the psoriasis lesions as well.
Keep in mind that some psoriasis medications such as topical coal tar preparations and systemic Acitretin can make a person more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Talk to your doctor about your personal situation before heading out in the sun.
Protect yourself from sunburn: Sunburns are injuries to the skin, and for some people, psoriasis forms at the site of an injury (this is known as the Koebner phenomenon).
Here’s how to prevent sunburns: Use a high SPF sunscreen when going out in the sun. Choose sunscreen brands made for sensitive skin and with broad protection - from both UVA and UVB rays (see HelloSkin's list of sunscreens recommended for psoriasis here). Protect your scalp and face by wearing a hat and cover up with lightweight, loose clothing and in any case, avoid staying out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.
It is also very important to protect yourself from overexposure to sun and sunburns to prevent skin damage/ skin ageing and skin cancers.
Use moisturizers: Apply moisturizers often and use larger amounts after being in the sun or spending long periods of time in air conditioning. Apply extra moisturiser as well after swimming. In the case of swimming in salt water or chlorinated water, take a shower after swimming and then apply the moisturiser.
Protect your skin from bug bites: Insect bites can be viewed as skin trauma and in rare cases can cause a psoriasis flare. Use an insect repellent when outdoors.
Wear light, loose, natural fibre clothing. Cotton and other lightweight fabrics are less likely to irritate the skin or cause you to overheat.