Jumpers have been hidden in the back of closets, BBQs have been lit and much-needed holidays booked... summer is finally here! The lazy, hazy, sunny days sound so appealing, but what happens when skin flare-ups play havoc with your plans?
Although many people see their PsA symptoms improve in summer, the season can also bring challenges when it comes to skincare. If you suffer from flare-ups in the warmer months, then we've found some of the most common potential aggravators, and show how you can help to stop them in their tracks.
Sun: If you've responded positively to UV therapy in the past, summer sun is likely to make your skin feel happy and could actually reduce flare-ups.i But don't forget to avoid using heavily fragranced or alcohol based sun protection products, and always search for the 'sensitive skin' options. Some medications used to control psoriasis can actually increase sun sensitivity, which in turn increases the risk of burning with even minimal exposure, so speak with your doctor to see if your medication will have any impact on your ability to withstand UV glare.
Heat: Heat and sweat can sometimes make PsA symptoms worse, especially if flare-ups tend to appear on areas like your face and scalp. It can feel impossible to avoid the climbing temperatures, but planning outdoor activities so they take place in the morning or early evening will make sure you're not exposed to the heat of the midday sun, and gives a great excuse for an afternoon nap – a win win situation! If you're based in an office then investing in a small fan to put on your desk will help you cool down quickly if the temperature gets too hot to handle.
Water: Did you know that salt water often improves the appearance of skin flare-ups? It helps remove the dead skin that gradually builds up over time, so be sure to take a dip if you're near an ocean! Providing that you don't have any open and infected sores, taking the chance to perfect your stroke technique in the pool can also have the same effect on skin, just remember to take a shower right after to wash off the chlorine, as it can occasionally act as an irritant.iSwimming and water walking are also great for alleviating joint pain; the buoyancy of the water supports our body weight, reducing the impact on joints but allowing for muscle strengthening exercise.
Bugs and more: None of us like having our arms and legs decorated with bug bites, but if you experience regular skin flare-ups then it's even more important to try and avoid being a creepy crawly's dessert. Bug bites or scrapes can actually cause psoriasis plaques to form at the site of the injury, so always protect yourself with repellent spray. A great trick is to carry a light scarf; if you suddenly feel like you're at risk of bites then draping it over your shoulders will help protect the skin.
As always, knowledge and preparation are key to minimizing the risk of flare-ups. Just remember to take small steps to protect yourself, and get ready for a summer of fun!