Seasonal changes can be accompanied by changes in the skin. Even though the spring and summer months can generally be more favourable for psoriasis, it is important to prepare to overcome certain challenges throughout the year. Learn more in this article.
How does one prepare their skin for seasonal changes when suffering from psoriasis?
Autumn and Winter.
Windy conditions, the cold, heating and dry air in homes can exacerbate the symptoms of psoriasis and, at times, trigger flare-ups. Indeed, during these periods, we are less exposed to the sun and have a deficiency in vitamin D. However, studies have shown that vitamin D plays a role in cell proliferation and it is often used as a treatment for psoriasis. Its anti-proliferative effect can be explained by its intervention on key cell cycle regulators, including p21waf 1, p27kip1, cyclin D1 to inhibit the transition from the G1 phase to the S phase. Fortunately, it is possible to adopt simple measures to mitigate the effects of these weather conditions on your skin.
Maintaining a certain level of humidity.
Maintain the relative humidity of your home between 30% and 50% by using a humidifier and reducing the heating. Ambient humidity can help keep the skin moisturised, which is important for alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis. Indeed, this can help reduce skin itching or irritation. Furthermore, humidity can help limit skin dryness, improving the appearance of psoriasis plaques and the comfort of the skin.
Use suitable skincare products.
Beyond its drying effect, soap can disrupt the natural pH balance of the skin, making it more sensitive and prone to irritation. Therefore, it is recommended to use a soap-free cleanser to maintain the integrity of your skin. You can also take a oatmeal bath to soften any crusts present on your skin. Oatmeal possesses anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that can help alleviate the itching associated with psoriasis and improve comfort. It can also aid in the removal of dead skin cells and scales.
Hydrate and generously nourish your skin.
Periods of dry air tend to dehydrate the skin. Frequently apply a thick layer of moisturiser, preferably when the skin is still damp, in order to protect it and maintain optimal hydration. Similarly, regularly drink water throughout the day.
Wearing suitable clothing.
A wool jumper, even of high quality, has coarse fibres that can cause irritation on sensitive skin. Therefore, it is essential to choose soft cotton fabrics or a layer of silk under a wool jumper to minimise the risk of irritation. Clothing that is too tight can cause friction on pre-existing lesions and potentially exacerbate skin irritations.
Spring and summer.
In the case of psoriasis, exposure to the sun is a double-edged sword. Some benefit from the UV rays which appear to reduce their symptoms. However, caution is necessary, as sunburn can have the opposite effect and exacerbate psoriasis.
Limiting one's exposure to the sun.
Whilst exposure to the sun can be beneficial in some instances, it is crucial to protect oneself with suitable sun protection to prevent sunburn, which could lead to additional skin irritation and promote the Koebner phenomenon. Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 before going outdoors, then reapply every two hours.
Be cautious with the intake of certain medications.
You must be vigilant, as certain photosensitising medications increase sensitivity to the sun, including some treatments for psoriasis. Consult your doctor if you have any doubts about certain treatments.
Rinsing one's skin after a swim.
Rinse your skin after swimming, as certain chemicals used in swimming pools as well as sea salt can irritate or dry out the epidermis. Afterwards, apply a moisturising cream and reapply sunscreen if necessary.
Hydrating one's skin.
Summer is known to be the period during which our skin is most dehydrated. Moreover, psoriatic skin tends to have a higher transepidermal water loss. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to hydrate several times throughout the day using creams or lotions and to drink water regularly.
SAMUEL S. & al. Vitamin D's role in cell proliferation and differentiation. Nutrition Reviews (2008).
HEIER I. & al. Sun exposure induces rapid immunological changes in skin and peripheral blood in patients with psoriasis. British Journal of Dermatology (2010).
JENSEN K. K. & al. Psoriasis and seasonal variation: A systematic review on reports from Northern and Central Europe—Little overall variation but distinctive subsets with improvement in summer or wintertime. Skin Research and Technology (2022).