7.5 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide are living with psoriasis. Some factors can make the summer months challenging for people with psoriasis, including dry air conditioning, increased sweating, and feeling self-conscious about exposing your skin. However, it is not all bad news – the summer also provides a few surprising ways to improve your skin.
Psoriasis is a systemic condition resulting from a malfunction of the immune system, specifically over-active T-cells, a type of white blood cell involved in inflammatory activities. These cells trigger immune responses that cause increased blood flow and inflammation, resulting in skin growth and build-up.
Psoriasis can affect any part of your body but is most common in areas like your elbows, knees, scalp, and torso. There are several types of psoriasis, but during a flare-up, a typical reaction looks like a scaly red rash or, inflamed patch of silvery skin called plaques. The rash is not only unsightly but can be painful, itchy, and uncomfortable.
If you think you might have psoriasis check out the CDC’s fact sheet with information about diagnosis and treatment.
We want you to get the most out of your summer, regardless of your condition. Here are some ways you can make the warm weather work for you:
Feel the Rays: Get Outside and Get Some Sun
The extra sunlight and exposure to increased ultraviolet rays can act like nature’s own light therapy and often improve your psoriasis. National Institute of Health (NIH) studies have also shown that vitamin D is an important therapeutic option for treating psoriasis. The vitamin D from the sun’s rays can help strengthen your immune system. Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, this effect could help treat the condition internally.
Summer’s heat and increased levels of humidity can also ward off intense flair-ups. As moisture in the air increases, it can reduce skin inflammation and itchiness while also making psoriasis patches less prone to cracking.
Wear Sunscreen to Avoid Getting a Sunburn
You may be tempted to stay outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, but even a mild sunburn has the potential to cause a significant flare-up. If you are going to be outside for an extended period, it is recommended you apply (at minimum) SPF 30 sunscreen, wear a hat, and light, breathable clothing.
Make sure you check your sunscreen ingredients and look for brands that are formulated for sensitive skin. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers up some additional helpful tips for protecting your skin during the summer months.
Jump In and Go Swimming
Swimming is a great way to soothe and reduce your psoriasis symptoms because it helps remove dead skin cells. Swimming in a pool will provide some calming relief to your symptoms, but swimming in salt water will offer up even more comfort. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, salts help break down thick skin plaques and allow sunlight to target the inflammation underneath. The density of the saltwater also helps to sluff off more of the dead skin cells, and the magnesium and other minerals in seawater aid specifically in skin clearing.
While swimming will remove the dead skin cells that cause psoriasis flare-ups, it can also dry out your skin if you are not careful. Therefore, you should always rinse off, try and take a warm shower and apply a skin moisturizer after getting out of the water to keep your skin hydrated.
We asked our members to share their experience with psoriasis in the summer, and 75% of the respondents said that swimming helped improve their condition. Check out our full study results for more real-life information about living with psoriasis.
Take a Vacation
Stress and anxiety worsen psoriasis symptoms and cause flair-ups. The summer is the perfect time to slow down and take advantage of things that can help you de-stress. Go on a vacation and leave work and its pressures behind.
If you are planning a “stay-cation,” select activities and help you relax – try taking a bike ride, tackling a new nature walk, or working on your vegetable garden.
Make a Plan with Your Doctor
And remember, whether you’re experiencing a flair-up or are in remission, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your routine. Your doctor may have some suggestions on a summer plan that suits your needs and works around any possible limitations.
You Are Not Alone
Read our interview with PLM member Maria about her experience with psoriasis. She offers her trusted remedies and therapies and expounds upon the benefits of sharing her experiences with other members. If you are looking for a community to share your health journey with, join Maria and thousands like her at PatientsLikeMe.com!