Summer brings with it lots to enjoy — backyard barbecues, lemonade, blooming gardens, and often improved psoriasis symptoms. But for some, it can also bring on a different set of challenges.
“People who have psoriasis can feel self-conscious,” says Abby Jacobson, MMS, P.A.-C, with Delaware Valley Dermatology Group in Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s a season that shows more skin.”
As this summer heats up, here are six tips for keeping your skin at its healthiest:
1. Treat your skin great now
“Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize,” says Melissa Ardnt, P.A.-C, of Hood River Dermatology in Hood River, Oregon. “Find a good hypoallergenic moisturizer for sensitive skin and use it after every bath or shower. That will create happier, more hydrated skin that will be ready for summer.”
2. It might be time to change treatment routines
Certain medications commonly used in psoriasis treatment can increase sun sensitivity, so a change might be necessary before summer, Jacobson says. In some cases, topical medications can be decreased over the summer as well. Remember, always talk with your health care provider before making changes to your treatment regimen.
3. Limited natural sunlight can be helpful
Talk with your provider early to determine how much sun exposure you can tolerate without sunscreen as it can vary depending on skin type. Jacobson recommends using a high-quality, dye-free, fragrance-free sunscreen on areas not affected by psoriasis, and on areas at a higher risk for skin cancer, such as the face and ears.
4. Bug bites bug you more
Because anything that damages the skin can cause a plaque to form, people with the most sensitive skin should use a chemical-free repellent, Jacobson says. Try applying it to clothing instead of the skin. Covering up can help, too.
5. Take a proactive approach
Schedule appointments early, and make a separate appointment about your psoriasis (instead of talking about it during a routine exam, such as a mole check, for instance). This will give you and your doctor more time to come up with a summer treatment plan.
Want tips to get the most from your appointment? Request NPF's free Appointment Prep Kit.
6. Don't forget the inner game
Jacobson and Ardnt agree that talking to a health care provider about the psychological impact of psoriasis can be just as important as treating symptoms, especially if worries about psoriasis might limit summer fun. “Find an empathetic caregiver, and then find activities you truly enjoy,” Jacobson says. “Be active, find a support system – all those things contribute toward improving your global health.”
What about psoriatic arthritis?
As summer approaches, people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) often wonder: Will warmer temperatures and higher humidity offer some relief?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know for certain what part weather plays in reducing PsA symptoms because PsA is known for its “spontaneous ups and downs,” says Ajay Wanchu, M.D., a rheumatologist with Oregon Health & Science University.
“From a practical perspective, here is what I suggest: Do what works for you. What works for others may not work as well for you,” Wanchu says.
So if summer brings relief, it could be a time to enjoy more outdoor activities like walks or swimming. But don’t ignore any increase in tenderness and swelling, which could mean that the joint is being damaged, Wanchu says. If you experience intensified symptoms, check in with a rheumatologist as soon as possible.
Live your healthiest life this summer
Our Patient Navigation Center has a wealth of resources to help you stay healthy! From learning about products that keep your skin moisturized to tips on how to best work with your provider, we've got you covered.
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