While living with psoriasis can be challenging all year round, it can be especially problematic in winter. The National Psoriasis Association states that a lower amount of exposure to sunlight combined with dry air from central heating systems can aggravate the condition. Here, we look at why your skin complaint worsens at this time of year and the best psoriasis treatment to help you through the colder months.
Why is my psoriasis worse in winter?
During the summer, we tend to spend our days outdoors enjoying the sunlight. Exposure to UV rays can actually alleviate many of the symptoms of psoriasis, but once the nights draw in and the days get colder, we wrap up in layers of clothing and spend more time inside, so our ultra-violet exposure decreases exponentially. Ultraviolet is helpful to the skin, impeding the rapid skin cell growth that is the hallmark of psoriasis, so reducing the amount of exposure is sure to cause a flare-up of symptoms. Also, during the winter there is lower air humidity, leading to a lack of moisture for the skin which exacerbates the problem.
How can I boost my exposure to UV rays in winter?
Although you could always go to a tanning salon to get your daily dose of ultraviolet exposure, the risks outweigh the benefits. Instead, as suggested by the experts on WebMD , you could try phototherapy, which involves using special lights which emit ultraviolet B rays. This treatment can be given at a special psoriasis clinic, at a doctor's surgery or even at home.
Do winter illnesses make my psoriasis worse?
Psoriasis can be affected by the immune system, so suffering from any kind of illness may cause a flare-up. As viruses and conditions such as strep throat are much more common in winter, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that it is important to protect your immune system by taking regular exercise, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. You could also try taking echinacea or vitamin C to boost your immune system. You should also consider being vaccinated against the flu virus before the winter season begins.
Which clothes should I wear to avoid aggravating the condition in winter?
Thick woolly clothing can make psoriasis worse, so try wearing clothing made from natural fibres instead. Consider wearing multiple layers so you can add or take off clothing as necessary.
What about taking hot baths?
In the winter, there is nothing more comforting than a soak in a tub full of hot water; however, if you suffer from psoriasis this is not recommended. Instead, taking a warm 10 minutes shower will help your skin to retain the moisture that it needs. Use a gentle body wash and remember to pat your skin dry rather than rubbing afterwards. Of course, you should never forget to apply plenty of fragrance-free moisturiser after washing to replenish your skin.