Summertime can offer benefits for psoriasis skin. There's more moisture in the air, which is good for dry and flaky skin. Also, the weather is warmer, and you're more likely to spend time in the sun. Moderate ultraviolet (UV)) ray exposure is good for you — as long as you're wearing proper sunblock.
Also, with the sun high in the sky, you might be thirsty for some time at the beach or pool. There are many benefits to swimming if you have psoriasis. For one, the temperature of the water can be soothing. Cool water can alleviate itchiness and scales, and warm water can decrease inflammation.
If you’re looking to take a dip this summer, the following 10 tips might help keep your psoriasis flare-ups from interfering with the rest of your summer plans.
Look for saltwater pools
Saltwater pools are increasing in popularity for health clubs and individual homeowners. This is particularly good news if you have psoriasis, since the chlorine used in traditional pools can increase irritation and dry skin. If you have access to a saltwater pool, you’ll be less likely to have a flare-up after swimming.
Don’t be afraid to get in the ocean
While saltwater pools are preferable to chlorinated ones, naturally occurring salt water is even better. Not all of us live near the ocean, but if you do, consider taking a dip as often as you can. If you don’t live near the beach, take advantage of the natural soothing powers of fresh ocean water on your next beach vacation.
Apply a skin protectant before heading in the water
No matter what type of water you end up swimming in, you’ll want to add a skin protectant over your plaques and lesions. This is especially important if you end up swimming in a chlorinated pool. Basic mineral oil or petroleum jelly (think Vaseline) will do the trick.
Shower immediately after swimming
It’s important to shower right after your swimming session so your skin can recover without setting off a flare-up. If you don’t have time to take a full shower with soap, simply rinse yourself off with plain water. You should make this a priority if you swim in chlorinated water.
Use chlorine-eliminating shampoos and soaps
There are certain shampoos and body soaps you can buy to help remove chlorine and other chemicals from your skin, post-swim. These can be helpful in keeping your skin lesions at bay. If you don’t have access to chemical-removing soaps, you’ll at least want to avoid putting more chemicals on your skin. Stay away from cleansers with color and/or fragrance.
Apply lotion immediately after showering
Body lotions trap moisture in your skin, which can be lost during any type of swimming (fresh, salt, and chlorinated water). You’ll want to apply lotion as soon as you shower or rinse off your skin. Damp skin retains lotion and seals in moisture better than skin that’s already dry.
Don't spend too much time in the sun
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can have positive effects on psoriasis skin if used in moderation (up to 10 or 15 minutes at a time). Any more UV exposure than this can make your lesions worse.
Wear sunscreen when swimming outdoors
Wearing sunscreen is important to help prevent photoaging, sunburns, and cancers of the skin. When you have psoriasis, sunscreen can also help prevent lesions from worsening.
Make sure you wear a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Apply it 15 minutes before heading outside. Put on a little bit extra around your skin lesions. When swimming, you’ll want to reapply your sunscreen every hour, or each time you dry your skin with a towel.
Don't soak for too long
In some cases, swimming can be quite soothing for psoriasis symptoms, especially if it’s in salt water. But you’ll want to be mindful of how much time you spend in the water. Staying in the water too long can worsen your symptoms. This is especially the case in hot tubs and chemically treated water. Try to keep your time in the water to 15 minutes or less.
Don’t let flare-ups keep you out of the water
Friends and strangers may be curious about any skin lesions you have. It’s completely up to you how much or how little you’d like to share about your condition. Psoriasis isn’t contagious, and that's all they really need to know. Try not to let your anxiety of other people's curiosity keep you from the activities you love, like swimming.
If you follow the above tips, swimming might not only be safe for your psoriasis skin, but it can also offer many benefits. However, if your symptoms do get worse or you experience a serious flare-up, talk to your doctor. He or she can offer you more insight on how to protect your skin so that you don't have to miss out on any fun in the sun.