Do you suffer from psoriasis? Are you worried about how to look after your skin this summer? Then this is the guide for you!
Summer can be a double-edged sword for people who have psoriasis. While many see improvements in their condition thanks to the hot, humid weather, they can also be exposed to many more triggers that cause flare-ups.
In this guide, we’ll offer 5 effective tips on tackling psoriasis this summer to help you make the most of the brief bout of balmy days we get in Britain.
A Brief Introduction to Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that’s thought to affect around two million people in the UK.
It’s an immune disorder that causes your immune system to kick into overdrive and react as if it were dealing with an infection or healing a wound. Inflammatory chemicals are produced by the body in response to this reaction, which prompts the accelerated growth of skin cells.
This over-abundance of skin cells causes the red, inflamed patches of skin – known as ‘plaques’ – that characterise the condition to form. These can be itchy and sore, and in the worst cases may bleed.
However, there’s several types of psoriasis, which may produce different effects including:
- Small red spots
- Patches of irritation under folds in the skin
- White blisters surrounded by red, irritated skin
- Pitting, discolouration and other issues with finger or toenails
- Patches of psoriatic skin to develop on the scalp
- Debilitating issues with joints due to psoriatic arthritis
Researchers still aren’t sure what leads to the development of psoriasis, but there are a number of factors that can trigger flare-ups.
Psoriasis and Summer
No two cases of psoriasis are exactly alike and both triggers and their effects can differ greatly from person to person.
For some, summer can be the best time of year – with the sunlight and humidity keeping the worst of their symptoms at bay. Others, however, will dread summer and suffer from sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at how psoriasis sufferers can enjoy summer safely.
Soaking Up the Sun
You’ll probably know whether or not your psoriasis is sensitive to sun. Phototherapy is a commonly used treatment in more severe cases and if you have a bad reaction to this, it’s likely you’ll suffer in sunlight.
Even if you’ve previously had a good reaction to sunlight – it’s best not to overstay your welcome in the sun and if you do have to stay out for a prolonged period, don’t be stingy with the sun cream.
Even a fairly mild case of sunburn can cause a psoriasis flare up and some medications used to keep psoriasis symptoms at bay can make you extra-sensitive to sunlight.
Sweating can irritate psoriasis, especially on your scalp and face, but the dry, cold air produced by air conditioners can also be a trigger.
Although they’re not cheap, a humidifier can be a great way to combat flare-ups and some companies, like Dyson, produce specialist humidifiers to combat skin conditions.
If you don’t have a fan handy, or are out and about – wet wipes can be your saviour. Be sure to regularly wipe away sweat before it gets into your skin and causes irritation.
There’s nothing like a good dip at the height of summer, but psoriasis sufferers need to take extra care.
For some, chlorine can be a particular irritant and cause skin to dry out – causing flare ups or making symptoms worse.
But others find water can clear up patches of flaking and soften areas affected by hard build-ups of plaques.
In any case, take care when swimming and avoid spending too long in warm water, which may cause itching and irritation.
After you’ve been in the pool, or hot tub, be sure to rinse off and get rid of that excess chlorine.
Psoriasis sufferers are vulnerable to suffering from the Koebner phenomenon, where flare ups occur in response to injuries on the skin.
Insect attacks can be a major cause of these, so it’s well worth taking care during the warmer months.
Long-sleeved tops and pants can be your friend and it’s well worth investing in insect repellent. Do take care to choose a brand with low levels of DEET, however, since this may cause more irritation than it prevents.
Similarly, don’t use insect repellent directly on patches of irritated skin or open sores.
It’s long been known that anxiety, stress and other psychological issues can cause skin conditions to flare up. So take the time to relax, have a nice holiday or just chill out in your garden.
If you’re suffering with an anxiety disorder, psychological condition or you think worries about your psoriasis could be contributing to flare-ups – don’t suffer in silence, speak to a doctor and get the help and advice you need.
Everyone’s experience with psoriasis is different, so if you’ve got any tips to share or questions to ask us, leave us a comment below or get in touch on Facebook. We always love to hear from you.
And if you’re looking for professional medical advice on dealing with psoriasis this summer, hit the button below to connect with a UK-based GP right now: