What Is a Flare?
A flare is when you have increased inflammation and the symptoms of your psoriatic disease get worse. This could mean symptoms showing up in new locations or symptoms becoming more severe. Flares can be long or short in duration, mild or severe, frequent or rare. Some people may not experience noticeable flares but more of a constant level of symptoms.
What Can Trigger a Flare?
A trigger is anything that causes symptoms to increase. Triggers vary from person to person, so what triggers a flare for one person may not produce a flare in another. The weather, for example, may trigger a flare. Warm weather often can improve psoriasis when there is more natural sunlight and higher humidity. It also may lessen joint pain and stiffness for those with PsA. However, the warm weather and some warm weather activities, like walking, hiking or swimming, may trigger a flare.
Tips for the Hot Weather Months
Enjoy the Sunshine
Some people see improvements in their psoriasis during summer because there is more natural ultraviolet light (sunshine). Make sure to put sunscreen on all your exposed skin, including your psoriasis plaques, to prevent sunburn, which may make your psoriasis worse. Talk to your dermatologist about sunscreen recommendations for your psoriasis. Look for sunscreen that:
- Has “broad spectrum” on the label, indicating that it protects against UVA and UVB rays
- Has 30 or greater SPF
- Is made for sensitive skin and is fragrance-free
Swimming in salt water can help remove dead skin and improve the look of psoriasis. However, salt water and chlorinated water can still dry out skin. Remember to rinse off and moisturize after swimming.
Wear Breathable Clothing
Clothes made of breathable fabric, like cotton, are best during the warm months, as are a hat and sunglasses. Consider wearing long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the sun and wearing light colors, which absorb less heat.
Heat and sweat can trigger psoriatic flares, so try to stay cool with a fan or air conditioning. However, air conditioning can also dry out your skin. Make sure to use moisturizer frequently when you are often in air-conditioned rooms or cars.
If you are going on a vacation, there are things you can do to prepare for your trip and reduce anxiety or stress. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing and enough of your prescription medicines and over-the-counter products, including moisturizers and hair products. Speak with your health care provider about prescription refills or traveling with a biologic.