If your child has psoriasis, you might notice changes in their symptoms depending on the season and the weather.
Shifts in temperature, humidity levels, and sunlight exposure can affect the condition of your child’s skin. And some psoriasis triggers are more common during certain times of year.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes skin inflammation. The most common type is plaque psoriasis, which causes inflamed scaly patches of skin.
Read on to learn how psoriasis can vary by season and how you can limit your child’s symptoms year-round.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), psoriasis affects about 1 percent of children.
If your child develops psoriasis, they may experience uncomfortable skin symptoms. They may feel self-conscious about these symptoms, which may affect their self-esteem and mental health.
Getting treatment and taking steps to avoid psoriasis triggers can help prevent flares, which are periods when psoriasis symptoms get worse. This may help improve your child’s quality of life.
Some common psoriasis triggers are more common in certain seasons than in others.
Some people find their psoriasis symptoms get worse during the winter. This may be due to:
- cold temperatures
- low humidity levels
- low sunlight exposure
Cold, dry air may irritate your child’s skin and dry it out. This may increase inflammation and worsen psoriasis.
To keep your child’s skin well-moisturized during the winter, follow these tips:
- Stick with your child’s psoriasis treatment schedule.
- Regularly apply a fragrance-free moisturizing cream or lotion to your child’s skin.
- Limit their baths or showers to 10 minutes each. Use warm water instead of hot water, and choose a moisturizing cleanser instead of regular soap to avoid drying out their skin.
- Dress them in warm layers when they go outside to protect their skin from cold air. Choose soft fabrics like cotton or silk instead of wool. Remove wet clothing when they come in from the outdoors.
- Install a humidifier in their bedroom.
Your child’s skin will also be exposed to less sunlight during the winter, when daylight hours are shorter and children typically wear more clothing to protect against cold temperatures.
Some exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight helps limit psoriasis symptoms in many kids. Less sunlight exposure may worsen your child’s psoriasis.
Depending on your child’s symptoms, a healthcare professional may prescribe phototherapy. In this treatment, the doctor will shine UV light on your child’s skin or prescribe a light unit for home use.
You may find that your child’s psoriasis symptoms improve in the summer. This may be due to increased humidity and sunlight exposure.
Though UV radiation in sunlight may help improve your child’s psoriasis, too much UV radiation exposure can cause a sunburn. Sunburns raise your child’s risk of skin cancer.
They can also cause the Koebner phenomenon. This when new psoriasis plaques form on injured skin.
Heat and sweat can also trigger psoriasis symptoms.
To reduce the risk of sunburn and psoriasis flares:
- Choose a fragrance-free sunscreen made for sensitive skin, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply to your child’s skin before going outside and reapply liberally every 2 hours when you’re in the sun.
- Encourage your child to wear a broad-brimmed hat and lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toed shoes outdoors. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton.
- Limit the amount of the time your child spends outside in peak sunlight hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to stay inside when it’s very hot outside, preferably in a room with a fan or air conditioning.
Bug bites and stings may also trigger the Koebner response and cause new psoriasis plaques to form.
To help prevent bug bites and stings:
- Apply insect repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET to your child’s clothing and exposed skin. Apply sunscreen before repellent.
- If you’ll be out in the evening or night or hiking in wooded areas, encourage your child to wear a broad-brimmed hat and lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toed shoes.
- Limit the time your child spends outdoors during times when bugs are most active, including dawn and dusk.
Parents should always help children to apply topical products, including medications, sunscreen, and insect repellents. Store these products out of reach of your kids.
Some kids find that their psoriasis symptoms improve after they swim in salt water. Others find that their symptoms get worse after swimming, which can dry out the skin. (Closely supervise your child at all times when they’re near or in the water.)
If chlorine or salt water seems to trigger your child’s symptoms, consider limiting the time they spend in pools, hot tubs, or the ocean. Rinse and moisturize your child’s skin immediately after they swim to help keep it from drying out.
Research from 2015 suggests that many people find that their psoriasis symptoms are better in the spring and fall than in the winter but worse than in the summer.
If your child has allergies and eczema (atopic dermatitis), they may develop skin symptoms such as hives or an itchy rash triggered by exposure to allergens, such as pollen. Rubbing or scratching the skin may worsen psoriasis symptoms.
Depending on your child’s triggers, these symptoms may get worse during the spring or fall. Tree pollen levels are high in the spring, while ragweed pollen levels are high in the fall.
These tips may help reduce your child’s exposure to seasonal allergy triggers:
- If your child is allergic to pollen or mold, encourage them to stay indoors with the windows closed when pollen or mold counts are high outside.
- If you have an air conditioner or air heater in your home, use it. Install high-efficiency filters to help remove pollen, mold, and other allergens from the air.
- Encourage your child to change their clothes and take a short shower in lukewarm water after they’ve spent time outside and may have been exposed to pollen or mold.
- Regularly dust or clean your home to reduce allergens.
Your child’s doctor may also encourage them to take over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines.
Another fall psoriasis trigger may be back-to-school stress. Psychological stress can make psoriasis symptoms worse.
Encourage your child to talk about any stress they might be feeling and problem-solve strategies to manage stressful situations. Consider signing your child up for an after-school activity or sport they enjoy, which may help boost their mood and decrease stress.
You might notice that your child’s psoriasis symptoms get better or worse at certain times of year.
Changes in temperature, humidity, and sunlight exposure can affect your child’s skin and psoriasis symptoms. So can seasonal hazards such as sunburn, bug bites, seasonal allergens, and back-to-school stress.
It’s important to keep your child’s skin well moisturized. Take steps to protect their skin from damage and avoid triggers that seem to make their psoriasis worse.