Preparing for the seasons

It’s normal for your skin care routine to change with the seasons. People generally have drier skin in the fall and winter, and experience oilier skin in the spring and summer months.

But if you have psoriasis, taking care of yourself means more than just contending with dry or oily skin. While the spring and summer months are generally more beneficial for psoriasis, there are some challenges to prepare for in all seasons.

Consider the following tips to prepare for the changing seasons if you have psoriasis. See your doctor if you experience any flare-ups that won’t go away.

Winter can be the most challenging season in terms of psoriasis management. Because the air is so cold and dry, your skin is more prone to dehydration. Your lesions may have more flakes and your skin may be itchier, too.

You can help relieve dry skin and keep your psoriasis symptoms at bay by moisturizing your skin. A heavy, creamy moisturizer works best during the winter. Petroleum jelly works as a good barrier, too. Just make sure that any moisturizer you wear is free of dyes and fragrances, as these can further aggravate your skin.

Cold temperatures also call for warmer clothing. With psoriasis, your best bet is to wear several layers of cotton clothing. Wool, rayon, and polyester fabrics can aggravate your skin, making it dry, red, and itchy.

You might also want to consider using a humidifier. This is especially helpful if you have heat running in your home. Take quick showers with lukewarm, not hot, water and make sure you use a basic cleanser instead of soap.

Springtime may bring some relief to your skin because humidity starts to rise along with the temperature. It may be warm enough for you to spend some time outside, which can help clear up your skin, too.

At this time of year, you’ll still want to wear cotton layers as needed. You may not need the heavy moisturizer anymore, but you should always have a good body lotion on hand. At minimum, you’ll need to apply lotion after bathing.

Another consideration is springtime allergies. Tree pollen is at its highest this time of year, so you may need to take an antihistamine to keep symptoms at bay. In addition to sneezing and congestion, tree pollen can cause itchy skin and eczema in some people. This can be an uncomfortable combination with psoriasis.

Typically, summer air is easier on your skin — whether you have psoriasis or not. The combination of heat and humidity decreases the dryness and itchiness of your skin. You’ll also likely have fewer lesions.

And, summertime also calls for more outdoor activities, which is great for your skin. Moderate ultraviolet (UV) ray exposure is healthy. If you plan on being in direct sunlight for more than 15 minutes though, you should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Getting a sunburn can make your psoriasis symptoms worse.

When you’re outdoors, remember you’re sharing space with insects. Since bug bites can worsen your psoriasis symptoms, make sure you wear bug repellant without DEET, as this active ingredient can aggravate your psoriasis symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about light therapy via UV rays during the summer. While UV rays can help your symptoms, overexposure can make them worse. Your doctor can recommend ways to gradually build up the amount of time you’re outside to get the most out of the natural sun’s rays.

Swimming can also bring relief to your skin. Salt water is less irritating than chlorine, but you can still swim in chlorinated water if you rinse your skin off with fresh water right after. Be wary of hot tubs and heated pools, since they can increase skin irritation.

Depending on where you live, fall weather may signify a slight or significant drop in temperature. Yet, there’s still going to be a decrease in the humidity your skin loves so much. You can prepare by making sure you have a heavy lotion on hand. Also, avoid taking hot showers and wearing thick clothing, as this will increase skin irritation.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s critical to keep your stress under control. Stress is one of the known triggers of psoriasis flare-ups. Make sure you save some time each day for yourself, even if it’s as just 5 or 10 minutes to meditate. Reducing your stress levels will decrease inflammation in your body and can result in fewer psoriasis flare-ups.

Also, make sure you’re actively working to build your immune system during cold and flu season. Aside from managing stressors, be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and wash your hands frequently. Ask your doctor if you can get a flu shot. Unless you’re in the middle of an active flare-up, getting a flu shot with an inactive vaccine is a good way to keep yourself well during fall and into winter.

As the seasons change, so do your skin’s needs. By taking precautions and using the tips above, you can avoid flare-ups and get back to living your best life.

It’s important to regard these tips as complements to your current medical treatment. Talk to your doctor before trying anything new.