When I was very young, summer was a magical time. We played outside all day, and every morning was full of promise. In my 20s, I lived in South Florida and spent a lot of my free time at the beach, poolside, or washing my car in my bikini.
By age 30, I was conscious of the connection between sun damage and wrinkles. I started to wear more sunscreen and avoid unnecessary exposure. Now, I try to have more balance. My medications make me prone to heat exhaustion, but I love how good the sun is for my psoriasis.
Here are some ways I achieve that balance.
I love my slip-on sneakers and flats, but in the warmest months, the last thing I want are socks that keep my feet even warmer. The trouble (besides odor) is skin irritation.
For me, irritated skin means psoriasis, and my feet are the last place I want it. I find a tube of anti-blister wax very helpful to prevent irritation on my feet.
After wearing shoes without socks, I can see the irritated spots on my toes, the top of my foot, and ankle area. Those places are exactly where I apply the wax. When I do this, I get fewer blisters, my shoes come off easier, and I get fewer spots, as well.
If you want to sunbathe, it’s a good idea to have a body of water nearby to periodically cool your body temperature. Because I am prone to heat exhaustion and it comes on swiftly, I always choose a spot at the beach closest to the water or pool.
Once I feel the symptoms coming on, I need to cool off quickly. Usually, a periodic dip in the water, including my head, is all I need.
Heat exhaustion can be dangerous, but not if you’re mindful and do your best to prevent it. This extends the time I can spend outdoors with family and friends.
Sun exposure can be wonderful for psoriasis, but that doesn’t mean it should be unlimited. The length of time you spend in the sun is dependent on where your flares are and which type of psoriasis you have (erythrodermic, plaque, or guttate).
For the best guidance on timing, you’ll need to consult with your doctor. When my guttate psoriasis flared up on the fronts of my shins after a pedicure, I exposed my skin to the sun for only 20 minutes each day, then continued to sun my legs with sunscreen.
Consider an anti-chafing product, such as cornstarch, diaper ointment, or a powder gel. This was a life changer for me! As a curvy girl, summer temperatures always mean chafing and pain.
Cornstarch is the least expensive method, but I prefer a powder gel. I can smooth the gel liberally on areas that chafe, it dries to a silky powder, and it doesn’t seem to transfer to my seat even if I’m perspiring. I especially love it for outdoor weddings and garden parties.
This may sound silly, but a parasol is great for outdoor activities, such as shopping, art shows, or festivals. It really is cooler under a heat-reflecting parasol. Mine looks like an ordinary black umbrella, but with silver fabric on the inside. It served me well when I was commuting by ferry and waiting on the pier twice a day in Manhattan. It fits in my suitcase for travel to tropical climates and keeps me cooler while strolling outside.
No one should have to avoid summer altogether. It just takes a little preparation and determination to make sure your psoriasis won’t keep you down.
Lori-Ann Holbrook lives with her husband in Dallas, Texas. She writes a blog about “a day in the life of a city girl living with psoriatic arthritis” at CityGirlFlare.com.