How The Seasons Affect Psoriasis

How to Vary Your Treatment to Fit the Season

2016 Psoriasis resolutions
2016 psoriasis management resolutions. GettyImages

Did you know that the seasons can have a big impact on your psoriasis? Ultraviolet rays and humidity levels change from season to season, affecting flares. Here's how the seasons affect psoriasis, and how you can adjust your treatment from season to season.

Seasons and Psoriasis

Many people with psoriasis dread the return of warm weather each spring because it means the days of covering up skin lesions with heavy clothing are over.

However, psoriatic skin typically fares better in spring and summer than in winter. Ultraviolet rays from the sun often help heal the red patches on the skin — known as plaques — that signal the most common form of the disease. The plaques arise from an immune system malfunction that causes skin cells to grow and attempt to replace existing cells far more rapidly than normal, resulting in accumulations of silvery scales on inflamed plaques.

Psoriasis symptoms are usually worse in winter, because the sun acts as an immunosuppressive. But what is usual is not always. Psoriasis can affect sufferers unpredictably, and some find summer's sticky air an irritant to already-inflamed skin. Others find the same humidity helpful; their experience is that the moisture-laden atmosphere locks in skin moisture, which typically calms psoriasis.

Treating Psoriasis in Fall and Winter

Here are a few tips to treat psoriasis during the colder months:

  1. Moisturize  with a rich cream or lotion. This will soothe psoriasis plaques and help keep outbreaks at bay by protecting unaffected skin from dehydrating, which can lead to flare-ups. Keep in mind that creams are more moisturizing than lotions.
  2. Use humidifiers in several rooms of your home, especially the bedroom, and in your office if possible. Indoor air during winter usually carries far lower humidity than the 60 percent level required for skin to not lose water. Adding live plant to your spaces can also increase the environmental humidity.
  1. Schedule phototherapy. Ultraviolet light machines available at dermatology offices can give sun-deprived psoriatic skin a boost toward wellness. Be sure to talk to your doctor about balancing the therapeutic advantages of phototherapy with its increased skin cancer risks.

Treating Psoriasis in Spring and Summer

Here are a few tips to treat psoriasis during the warmer months:

  1. Take advantage of natural sunlight by exposing psoriasis plaques to 10 or 20 minutes of rays each day. Again, balance your benefits with the concurrent risks of skin cancer.
  2. Wear light cotton clothing instead of synthetics. This not only keeps itching at a minimum but helps stem excessive perspiration, which can sting psoriasis lesions.
  3. Consider the water in which you swim. Highly chlorinated pool water can irritate inflamed psoriasis plaques and can lead to dry skin if the chlorine is not rinsed off immediately after swimming. Swimming in ocean water can prove beneficial; some psoriasis sufferers find that salt water sloughs off scales. However, be sure to apply moisturizer after swimming in either type of water.

    By keeping these tips in mind, you can control your psoriasis and enjoy every season of the year.

    Sources:

    Doris J. Day, clinical assistant professor of dermatology, NYU Medical Center. Phone interview. 21 April 2008.

    Change in the Weather: Does the Climate Affect Your Psoriasis?." Psoriasis.org. 18 Dec. 2003. National Psoriasis Foundation. 20 Apr. 2008.

    "About Psoriasis: Fall/Winter Questions and Answers." Psoriasis.org. 18 Nov. 2004. National Psoriasis Foundation. 20 Apr. 2008.

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