Is the sun helpful or harmful for psoriasis?

People with psoriasis also find that in the summer, as they have more sun exposure, their symptoms improve. This is no coincidence-a person with psoriasis will profit from the right amount of exposure.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that can occur where there is no proper functioning of the immune system. It results in the overgrowth of cells in the skin.

These cells accumulate in scaly plaques on the surface of the skin that can be uncomfortable and itchy. Treatments include medicated creams, hormones, a number of oral medications, and immune system-targeted biologic drugs.

Sunlight can help to manage skin symptoms, but since too much sun exposure may make symptoms worse or trigger a flare, it is important to take precautions.

This article discusses how to have healthy psoriasis sensitivity to the sun and how to protect the skin from too much sun.

How does sunlight help psoriasis?

Exposure to the sun may have a positive impact on psoriasis symptoms. It also improves levels of vitamin D, which may or may not play a role in psoriasis.

UV rays

Exposure to sunlight
Controlled sun exposure may help with psoriasis.

Ultraviolet ( UV) rays are emitted by the sun and may be UVA or UVB. The difference lies in the wavelength size. UVA rays, while UVB rays do not penetrate as deeply, can reach deeper into the skin.

Research indicates that there are immunosuppressive effects of UV rays, which may help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis.

It appears that natural UVA rays alone do not improve the symptoms of psoriasis, but UVB rays may help.

The rapid growth of skin cells caused by psoriasis can be delayed by UVB exposure from the sun. In people with mild to moderate psoriasis, this can help relieve inflammation and minimize scaling.

Vitamin D

Sunlight can also help the body develop vitamin D, which in the body has many significant functions. In some foods, vitamin D occurs naturally, but a person requires sunlight for most of their supply of vitamin D.

A 2017 study indicated that among individuals with psoriasis, vitamin D deficiency could be prevalent.

It is not clear, however, whether increased vitamin D helps improve the symptoms of psoriasis or whether the improvement is due to the immune system benefiting from sunlight.

Dermatologists may recommend that topical creams that contain vitamin D be used by people with psoriasis. With psoriasis plaques, these creams can help.

How much sun?

Sunlight may help treat psoriasis, but slowly growing exposure and setting limits are vital to avoid any damage that could cause a flare of skin involvement.

Make sure that before going into the sunshine:

  • Fair exposure to all areas of skin affected by psoriasis
  • All other areas are covered by clothing or sunscreen.

Start by exposing the affected areas at the same time per day for 5-10 minutes, such as at noon. This will allow sunlight to be absorbed by the body and reduce the risk of sun damage.

This kind of sun exposure should be avoided by someone who undergoes phototherapy. This includes individuals who use PUVA, a light treatment that involves a mixture of UVA rays and a medication named psoralen.

To assess the proper amount of sun exposure, it is best to consult with a specialist, such as a dermatologist. A more managed UV exposure type, such as narrow-band UVB therapy, may be recommended.

Phototherapy

The body absorbs UV rays during phototherapy. This can help ease the symptoms of psoriasis. In a controlled setting, such as the office of a dermatologist, phototherapy refers to UV light exposure.

UVB rays can help treat psoriasis because they are likely to alter the immune system, which in people with psoriasis does not work correctly.

PUVA therapy

PUVA, a combination of light therapy, may also be recommended by doctors.

To increase the body ‘s sensitivity to UVA rays, the individual will first take psoralen or its derivative, methoxsalen. They’ll undergo phototherapy then.

PUVA has been described as safe and effective by researchers, but many dermatologists prefer a safer alternative, narrow-band UVB therapy, because PUVA can increase the risk of skin cancer for a person.

Risks

Sunlight can help with psoriasis if an individual practices safe exposure. But too much can lead to further damage and symptoms that have worsened.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is another danger of sun exposure. Children, people who do not adequately protect their skin, and those who experience sunburn are those most vulnerable.

Medications

Certain medicines can make the skin more sensitive to light, including oral medications, topical creams, and ointments. The risk of sunburn and other forms of skin damage can be increased by this.

Asking a healthcare professional about any risks associated with medications and other treatments is important.

Tanning beds

The National Psoriasis Foundation does not recommend that tanning beds be used by individuals with the condition to treat their symptoms.

Tanning beds, in contrast to phototherapy units, use wavelengths that can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Tanning beds may also use more UVA than UVB light, another reason why they are less efficient at reducing symptoms of psoriasis than phototherapy.

Sun safety

Anyone seeking exposure to the sun should protect their skin, and this is particularly true for individuals with psoriasis.

Sunscreen

Sun lotion
People with psoriasis should use a hypoallergenic sunscreen as sunlight can trigger symptoms.

There are various sunscreen styles, and selecting the right one can be difficult.

A good sunscreen will allow a person with psoriasis to:

  • have “broad-spectrum” on the label, indicating that it offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays
  • have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30
  • be water-resistant, if a person will be swimming or sweating under the hot sun
  • be hypoallergenic or designed for sensitive skin and possibly fragrance-free

Some chemicals in generic sunscreens can irritate the skin or trigger flares.

Other precautions

Below are some more tips for sun safety.

  • Wear a hat, pants, and a long-sleeved shirt to help protect the skin from too much sun exposure. Some clothes and hats are infused with sunscreen, and dermatologists highly recommend these.
  • Use sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin around the eyes.
  • Seek shade around midday by staying indoors or sitting under a tree, umbrella, or tent.

Be mindful, however, that in shady areas, there is still a chance of excessive sun exposure. Some of the sun’s rays can be obscured by trees and umbrellas, but sunlight can bounce off different surfaces, including snow and water. Skin sensitivity may be enhanced by this.

Takeaway

There is currently no cure for psoriasis, but with topical medications and lifestyle changes, many individuals control the disease.

Careful, restricted sun exposure, mainly through the action of UVB rays, may help manage symptoms. A more controlled type of exposure to these rays is offered by phototherapy in a dermatologist ‘s office.

Under the guidance of a trained specialist, it is necessary to undergo light therapy. There is no safe alternative to tanning beds.

When exposing the skin to sunlight, take care, as too much sun will make the symptoms worse.

A dermatologist may assist in deciding the right form and degree of UV ray exposure and what kind of sun protection to use.

XTRAC laser therapy is a more localized form of psoriasis light therapy that specifically targets the affected area and is effective for stubborn, tiny plaques.

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