As the summer heat rises and you begin to sweat, you may wonder if your plaque psoriasis will get worse. If you have plaque psoriasis, you may have noticed differences in the frequency and severity of flare-ups as the weather changes. Temperature and humidity affect people in different ways, but research has found some common trends in their association with plaque psoriasis symptoms.
Psoriasis symptoms tend to get worse when the weather is cold and dry. However, some people with plaque psoriasis find their symptoms flare up during the summer months.
“I’m very itchy in the extreme humid heat of Calcutta,” wrote one MyPsoriasisTeam member.
When the weather changes often, it can make the effects on your plaque psoriasis even more pronounced. “It’s so humid today, and that just seems to make my psoriasis so much worse,” wrote one team member.
“I have scalp psoriasis, and I don’t know if it’s the humid, hot weather, but I’m having an awful time,” shared another.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, psoriasis flare-ups may occur from sunburns, spending time in air-conditioned spaces, sweat, and skin injuries.
Heat, sun exposure, and sweat might trigger psoriasis flares in some people. One MyPsoriasisTeam member said, “The heat and sweat make it itch all the worse.” Another commented, “It has been really hot, and my skin seems to be worse when I sweat.”
When it’s hot out, we tend to spend more time in air-conditioned spaces for relief. However, air-conditioning dries out the skin, which could also aggravate psoriasis symptoms.
Alternatively, flare-ups might happen for indirect reasons. Summer activities like hiking in nature might increase the risk of skin injury, which can trigger a psoriasis flare-up. Cuts, scrapes, sunburn, a poison ivy rash, and bugbites can lead to plaque psoriasis flares.
Plaque psoriasis might also act up during the summer because of the Koebner phenomenon. The Koebner phenomenon occurs in different skin conditions when new lesions related to the condition appear after the skin is damaged in some other way. In plaque psoriasis, new psoriasis lesions may appear in people affected by the Koebner phenomenon if the person has significant changes to the skin (like a burn or tattoo) or even after minor damage like a scratch.
One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, “I have Koebner, and when I get a cut or one of my joints is hurting … bam, I get psoriasis in that spot every time.”
Luckily, there are a few ways summer weather may be helpful for managing your condition. Sun exposure and increased vitamin D levels might help improve plaque psoriasis symptoms. The body makes vitamin D when bare skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, which is why light therapy (or phototherapy) is a helpful treatment for some people with psoriasis.
“Summer has finally hit in Minnesota,” shared one MyPsoriasisTeam member. “Nice to be out in the sunshine, with sunscreen of course. Sun definitely helps.”
Some people with plaque psoriasis find an improvement in the appearance of their skin after swimming in chlorinated pools or salt water. However, these activities affect people in different ways. For some people, swimming makes their plaque psoriasis worse.
Despite the potential benefits of exposing your skin to the summer sun, it’s equally important to be aware of the risks involved. You’ll want to avoid sunburn and skin injuries to make sure you don’t unintentionally trigger psoriasis flare-ups.
You might already be familiar with how to take care of your skin and manage your plaque psoriasis. Because the summer months usually bring more sun, humidity, sweating, and time spent in nature and in air conditioning, you may need to adjust your plaque psoriasis treatment plan.
Apply moisturizer right after showering or washing your skin, especially if you spend a lot of time in air conditioning, to prevent your skin from getting too dry. Talk to your health care provider about what kinds of creams, lotions, or ointments may work best for you.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, with a high SPF, to protect your skin from sunburn and skin cancer. Exposure to natural sunlight can be great for people with psoriasis, but you have to stay vigilant about reapplying sunscreen often so you stay protected. Ask your dermatologist if they have any recommendations for a good sunscreen for your skin.
Cover up your skin to reduce sun exposure and the potential for bugbites. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Choose clothes made of breathable fabrics, like cotton, to stay cool and avoid skin irritation. Clothing in lighter colors absorbs less heat.
Try swimming in salt water. Salt water can help the look of plaque psoriasis and improve symptoms. However, because it can also dry out skin, be sure to rinse off and moisturize afterward.
Be careful when applying bug repellents. Some products contain DEET, which can irritate your skin. You could test your skin’s sensitivity to a bug repellent by performing a patch test — testing the product on a small patch of your skin to see if it reacts before applying it to larger areas.
Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if your plaque psoriasis gets worse in the summer. They can provide medical advice and make adjustments to your treatment plan.
Summer can be a great time for people with skin conditions like psoriasis. You get the chance to go outside and enjoy some nicer weather, which might help with your symptoms. Continue to stay aware of the factors that may contribute to your flare-ups. Something as simple as getting a cut while outside or using a bug repellent could irritate your skin.
On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network and online support group for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, members discuss what it’s like to live with psoriasis. Here, more than 118,000 members from across the world come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
“It's nice to know that I can come here and get some type of advice from people who are going through or have gone through the same thing,” wrote one team member.
Have you noticed your plaque psoriasis symptoms change in the summertime? Do you have any tips for how you’ve managed these changes? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation on your Activities page.