What is the role of climate and sunlight in psoriasis?

Hot, humid environments tend to worsen more severe cases of psoriasis. In contrast, dry, sunny climates may be helpful in controlling flare-ups, particularly in mild cases. In temperate climates, where sunlight is not available all year, artificial ultraviolet light is frequently used in the treatment of psoriasis.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Psoriasis-in-the-Summertime

Would a day at the beach help manage my symptoms?

A day at the beach can help manage your symptoms only if you are careful. For most people with psoriasis, moderate sun exposure is beneficial. However, exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light should always be done cautiously and in moderation. The exposure should be just long enough to cause a mild redness the first time, then gradually and carefully increased on subsequent occasions. Prolonged exposure to sunlight, such as being at the beach all day, may actually do considerable harm, especially if you are fair-skinned. Severe sunburn may cause the psoriasis to spread all over the sunburned areas. Sunscreen should be used to protect against sunburn.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Psoriasis-in-the-Summertime

Ultraviolet light

Sunlight is helpful for many people with psoriasis. However, because Canadian winters are long, and precious summer months are typically short, we cannot rely on sunlight for much of the year.

This is why artificial ultraviolet (UV) light may be helpful. Because ultraviolet light is effective for many people with psoriasis, doctors sometimes recommend it in various forms to people with psoriasis. The most useful ultraviolet light is UVB, or short-wave ultraviolet light. It is not the light used in "sun tan parlors." Ultraviolet treatment with a sunlamp is often given in hospitals for plaque psoriasis (the most common type) and guttate psoriasis. By receiving properly controlled exposures to UVB, along with topical medications (those spread on the skin), flare-ups of psoriasis might be controlled.

A long-wave ultraviolet light, UVA, is used in combination with certain oral medications for resistant psoriasis. In severe cases of psoriasis, dermatologists may use a treatment known as PUVA - P for psoralens, plus UVA light. Psoralens are chemicals found in various plants, which can enhance the skin's response to UVA, the least dangerous form of UV light.

If you are considering UV treatment, talk to your doctor, dermatologist and pharmacist first, and follow your doctor's instructions carefully to avoid serious skin damage.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Psoriasis-in-the-Summertime

Skin safety in the sun

Sometimes people with psoriasis are slightly embarrassed by their condition and face a dilemma during summer months. They have heard that the sun is good for their condition, yet they hesitate to reveal any more of their skin than they have to.

You aren't alone if you wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, even on the hottest summer days, and never sunbathe on the beach or venture into the water. However, this may mean that you miss out on a lot of fun during the summer. Most people feel they look their best in the summer, and when you feel good, you look good too. Often, the more self-conscious you are about your psoriasis, the more upset it might make you, which can cause stress that may actually worsen your symptoms!

So if your skin might benefit from sunlight, it could well be worth letting it be safely exposed to the sun. Whether you will be helped by sunlight - real or artificial - depends on many factors, such as the type of psoriasis, your age, and the various forms of treatment you may have tried. You should first get advice from your doctor and dermatologist about whether you should try sunlight.

You are at the highest risk of sunburn if you are fair or red-haired and your skin does not tan easily. Certain medications, such as antibiotics and retinoids (commonly taken to fight acne), may also increase the risk of sunburn.

If your skin does react well to the sun, follow these guidelines to stay safe:

  • In general, try to stay out of the hot sun between 11 am and 2 pm. However, since the angle the sun comes in at varies depending on how close you are to the equator and what time of year it is, it might make even better sense to check the power of the sun by the shadow it throws. If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is more likely to cause burns. If your shadow is longer than you are, the sun's rays are not as strong and are less likely to burn your skin.
  • Remember that shade does not provide 100% sunlight protection. Water, sand and concrete can all reflect the sun's rays and increase your chances of burning. It is important to note that sunlight can penetrate glass, clouds, water and thin clothing such as hosiery.
  • Use the sunscreen that best suits you and re-apply it every few hours, or more often if you go swimming or exercise, especially if you towel-dry afterwards.
  • Loose-fitting clothing provides better protection against the sun than tight clothing, and dark colors are more protective than light ones.

What about sunscreens?
Sunscreens have sun protection factors (SPF), which measure protection against UVB. The sun protection factor you need is based on your own judgment of how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, if you can sit out in the sun for ten minutes without burning, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will ideally give you 15 times more suntanning time - that is, about 150 minutes - protected against sunburn.

An SPF 15 provides high protection, but most dermatologists would recommend an even higher sun protection factor. If you burn easily, take medications which make you more sensitive to the sun, or have a history of skin cancer, you should probably use an SPF of 25 or higher. Even if you're not especially sun-sensitive, it may be worthwhile to choose an SPF higher than 15. Remember, skin care products with an SPF less than 15 offer very little protection, whether you are sun-sensitive or not.

Be aware that the level of protection indicated on a product is only reached if the correct amount of sunscreen is used. Most people apply too little - usually, one ounce (approximately 30 mL) per use is considered optimal. If in doubt, apply a sun care product evenly and generously - better too much than not enough.

It is very important not to burn, as this can increase your risk of skin damage, skin cancer, and premature skin aging or wrinkles.

Sunbeds and sunlamps
If you want to use a sunbed or sunlamp, talk to your doctor or dermatologist first. Sunbeds are not necessarily safer than the sun, although many people mistakenly believe they are. They are likely only to be of any help if your skin also benefits from natural sunlight. It is the UVB rays that you will need to use, and you have to be extremely careful to ensure these don't burn your skin. Ask your pharmacist to give you more information and guidance on products that help protect your skin.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Psoriasis-in-the-Summertime

Some other factors to consider this summer

 
 
 
Keep the following psoriasis triggers in mind when planning your summer activities and vacations:

  • Wearing tight clothes, hats, shoes and jewellery: Tight-fitting clothing and accessories may irritate your skin and cause psoriasis symptoms to worsen. Plan for loose-fitting clothing when packing for holidays.
  • Alcohol and smoking: Alcohol may be a risk factor for young and middle-aged men, and severe psoriasis is sometimes seen in people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Besides its links to many other health risks, smoking may also trigger psoriasis flare-ups. Live healthy this summer and limit your intake of alcohol. If you smoke, every attempt to quit will reduce of risk of the harmful effects of smoking.
  • Nutrition: Doctors are unsure what part diet plays in psoriasis, but they suspect that nutrition may have a small role in this skin disorder. Keep in mind that a well-balanced diet is part of a healthy lifestyle for people with or without psoriasis. Plan for healthy meals and snacks this summer to maintain your overall health.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Psoriasis-in-the-Summertime