Treating Psoriasis During the Winter

 Treating Psoriasis During the Winter

If your Psoriasis could speak, it might be at its most vocal during the New England winter. As weather conditions grow stronger, you might be noticing your psoriasis getting worse. This is a harsh reality, but one that you can take steps to improve.

What is it About Winter?

There are a variety of skin conditions that are made worse by dry, wintry conditions. Psoriasis is perhaps chief among them, counting winter as a trigger for a couple main reasons.

The first reason is pretty straightforward: it’s much drier in the winter, both indoors and out. Pumping the heat up inside might be the only thing that’ll keep you warm, but it can wreak havoc on your skin. The warm air is incredibly dry and that missing moisture is actually drawing out the precious moisture your skin contains.

The outside air isn’t doing you any favors either. While winter in the northeast usually buries us in snow on multiple occasions, the air is actually very dry. Next time you check the weather, note the percentage of humidity listed; it’s often quite low.

While psoriasis is fairly well-understood, the effects of sunlight on the condition are still being explored. It’s believed that the UVB light contained in the sun’s rays can actually help slow the skin’s overproduction of skin cells. With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand why winter is hard on psoriasis. The days are shorter and sunlight is hard to come by. Add this to the fact that we’re bundled up from head to toe and hiding inside most of the winter and you have a distinct lack of sunlight in your winter life. Without the UVB light that you are casually exposed to in spring and summer, fall and winter call for some extra help.

Light Therapy: For When the Sun isn’t Enough

While you might be tempted to visit your nearest tanning salon for that much-needed UVB, don’t do it! Tanning booths are an extremely unsafe way to take in light and can cause a great deal of skin cancers.

Instead, trust your dermatologist to provide the light for you. Light therapy is a long-recommended treatment for psoriasis. In the past, carefully sunbathing was the best way to help your psoriasis. Thankfully, considering the weather, your doctor has other options that can be applied in the office.

Narrowband UVB light is used in either a light box that you might stand in, or in a smaller device that’s applied directly to psoriasis plaques. The results of light therapy can be remarkable, and while it works great in the winter, it’s also safe to practice all year. Narrowband UVB light therapy is much less likely to cause sunburn-like side effects, and when you factor in your dermatologist’s experience, the risk is even lower. In some cases, your doctor may even be able to recommend home units for in-home treatment during the winter months, but keep in mind that this poses more risks. UVB therapy, regardless of the season, can clear up psoriasis incredibly well. There are certain conditions that may prevent it from being for you (such as a medical history of skin cancer), so be sure to give your dermatologist a comprehensive look into your skin health history.

Moisturize and Humidify

You can’t do much to improve the humidity of the outside air, but you can do quite a bit inside. Using a personal humidifier at your office desk can greatly improve the amount of moisture your skin retains and absorbs. The same goes for the rooms of your home, but you might need a few humidifiers to offset the drying effect of your furnace or fireplace.

If you are treating your psoriasis, you probably already use a moisturizer. It might be time to step that up, or use a stronger, winter formula of the moisturizer you already use. Check the moisturizer aisle of your favorite store for products that your dermatologist recommends or that you already trust. If you’re using a lotion that works well for you during the day, apply a cream or an ointment at night. This helps your skin by providing a barrier against dryness, preventing moisture loss and providing moisture too.

New England winters can be especially rough if you’ve got psoriasis, so don’t face them alone. Get in touch with the skincare experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.

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