National Psoriasis Foundation

Treating psoriasis with sunlight

Many people with psoriasis eagerly await the beginning of summer, as their psoriasis tends to clear with the increased sunlight and humidity. However, the summer months can be troublesome as well, and it is important to keep some things in mind as warmer weather heads our way.

How should I use the sun as a treatment for my psoriasis?

Sunlight and PsoriasisPsoriasis treatment regimens should always be discussed with your dermatologist. Your doctor can recommend the appropriate number of times per week for you to go out in the sun and the appropriate exposure time. Your doctor will also caution you about how the sunlight may affect your current psoriasis treatments. For example, some medications may be inactivated by sunlight, and in other cases, sunlight may intensify the medication's side effects.

Some medical professionals recommend psoriasis patients sunbathe at least three times per week. Keeping a record of what time of day and for how long you are exposed to the sun is important for tracking your treatment success. It may take several weeks to see improvement in your psoriasis.

With shorts season right around the corner, what can I do to make my psoriasis less noticeable?

The good news is that the longer days and more sunlight often result in better psoriasis over the summer months for many patients. In preparation though, commit to treating your skin with moisturizers or medications. You might also consider intralesional injections or laser treatments to improve your psoriasis right before summer.

If I want the sun to help my psoriasis, should I still use sunscreen?

Sunscreen is important in protecting against sunburn but it also blocks the therapeutic rays that help psoriasis. Some doctors recommend going into the sun for a few minutes without sunscreen, then applying it. Start with a short exposure, such as five minutes, and gradually increase the exposure by a few minutes each day. Other doctors recommend using a higher protection sunscreen and staying in the sun longer. Talk to your dermatologist to determine which approach is best for your skin. Anyone who is out in the sun all day should apply sunscreen before being exposed to the sun. Some sunscreens include additives such as perfumes, oils and dyes that can be irritating to sensitive skin.

Will chemicals in the pool irritate my psoriasis?

The chemicals don't necessarily irritate psoriasis, but water can pull moisture out of the skin. You may want to shower immediately after getting out of the pool to remove the chlorine smell, and then liberally apply moisturizers to hydrate the skin.

Sunlight and PsoriasisWhat should I do if I get a sunburn?

Treat your sunburn with cool baths. Sometimes using an oatmeal additive in the bath can be soothing. It's also important to use moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated. Seek medical attention if your sunburn is severe, if it blisters or if it is accompanied by a headache, chills or fever.

Is sunlight a safe treatment for my psoriasis?

We know that exposure to sun can cause damage to the skin, including skin cancer and premature aging. If you are using sunlight to help control psoriasis, be sure to take precautions to minimize these potential risks. It is important to know the warning signs of skin cancer and get regular checkups from your dermatologist.

August 2012

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