Frequently Asked Questions:
Psoriasis in spring, summer, fall and winter

Spring and summer

Why does my psoriasis get better in the summer?

It is speculated that some people see improvement in their psoriasis because of the greater availability of natural ultraviolet light (sunshine). People usually wear fewer layers of clothing and expose more areas of skin by wearing short sleeves, short pants, and swimming suits during the summer months.

Can sunbathing help my psoriasis?

In most cases, yes. People with psoriasis often do respond well to exposure to natural and/or artificial ultraviolet light. However each person is different. If your psoriasis has responded well in the past to sunlight or phototherapy, it is likely that you will have a positive response. If you have responded negatively, then sunbathing is most likely not for you. Overexposure to ultraviolet light can trigger a flare-up of psoriasis symptoms. It is best to start with very low exposure times and build-up over several weeks. Learn more about light therapy.

Should I use a sunscreen when I'm in the sun?

Yes. It is very important to use sunscreen on areas of the body without psoriasis to prevent skin damage and cancer.

Can I go in a swimming pool or hot tub if I have psoriasis?

Yes, unless you have open sores that are infected or oozing. Chlorine is a chemical that may cause irritation and can further dry out the already over dry skin that normally accompanies psoriasis. However, many people find that pool or hot tub water helps to soften and clear crusty, hard areas and flaking. Be aware of very warm water or long soaks in hot tubs as heat can increase itching and irritation. The best way to avoid this irritation is to shower as soon as possible after pool or hot tub use. Using chlorine-removing shampoos and/or soap can help to further reduce chemical irritation. The shower should be followed with a generous application of moisturizer.

Fall and winter

Why does my psoriasis get worse in the winter?

A combination of dry air, decreased sunlight exposure, and colder temperatures can all contribute to winter psoriasis flares. Frequent moisturizing and use of a home humidifier can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Discuss with your doctor possible treatments to control your psoriasis in the winter.

Will my psoriasis get worse if I get sick?

Anything that can affect the immune system can, in turn, affect psoriasis. Having a cold or the flu can play a role in your psoriasis. Make sure you get plenty of rest, wash your hand frequently, and try to be aware of other triggers, such as stress, that can increase your susceptibility to sickness.

Is there a link between strep throat and psoriasis?

One form of psoriasis called guttate is often associated with strep throat. A microorganism called Streptococcus causes strep infections. Many times a person may not even have symptoms of strep throat but still have an active flare of psoriasis. Talk with your doctor about getting a streptococcal antibody test to determine higher than normal levels of strep in your system.

Can I get the flu shot or other immunizations if I have psoriasis?

Yes, as long as your psoriasis is not actively flaring and you get the killed version of the vaccine. There is no evidence that receiving an immunization of any kind can cause psoriasis. However, not all vaccines are a good idea for psoriasis sufferers. For example, the small pox vaccine is not recommended for all individuals with psoriasis. This is because the small pox virus can be passed from person to person through an open wound.

Injections of any kind may trigger a flare-up of psoriasis symptoms as the result of a response known as the Koebner Phenomenon. This phenomenon is responsible for either triggering the original onset of psoriasis symptoms, or the development or worsening of psoriasis symptoms at the injection (or injury) site. However, many people with psoriasis are able to receive injections and immunizations with no problem or changes in their psoriasis symptoms. Always talk with your dermatologist before getting an immunization or vaccine.