EXPERT RECOMMENDS: How to enjoy the summer if you have psoriasis

Although the plaques generated by psoriasis are seen on the surface, which at this time of year adds a strong emotional burden to these patients, it is important to keep in mind that the inflammation caused by the disease impacts other organs, such as the liver or the joints.

At this time of year, the heat and the sun invite you to wear lighter clothes, where part of the body is shown to attenuate the high temperatures typical of summer. Nevertheless, For people who suffer from psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that expresses itself on the skin through plaques with silvery scales, small red spots, thick and inflamed lesions, this situation confronts them with the dilemma of showing their skin.

Likewise, psoriasis causes other diseases, such as psoriatic arthritis and, in turn, has consequences on a physical, emotional, social and economic level.

In Chile, it is estimated that “Between 2% and 3% of the population suffers from it”according to Dr. Fernando Valenzuelaassociate professor of dermatology at University of Chiledermatologist at Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile and of the Las Condes Clinic.

The specialist explains that there are patients with this disease “That from November to March they do not leave their houses. In general, they do not go to the beach or go covered because they are ashamed of how they look and are afraid of rejection. On the other hand, patients who dare to show themselves are sometimes discriminated against due to general misinformation about this pathology.”

What psoriasis hides

As Dr. Valenzuela indicates, “Psoriasis can be life-threatening for patients because the inflammatory mediators that are produced in the skin travel through the blood and lymphatic stream throughout the body and, as a lot of skin is inflamed, the concentration of these inflammatory molecules is very high, leading to a malfunction of the liver, heart, etc. That is why suffering from psoriasis increases the risk of developing other diseases such as high blood pressure, intestinal, metabolic and mental health problems, and these other conditions can shorten your life by 2 or 3 years”.

The sun is beneficial, but with precautions

Dr. Valenzuela indicates that “for 90% of patients with psoriasis, the sun is good for them. This is explained because solar radiation, by penetrating the deep layers of the skin, causes the cells, which are responsible for monitoring our immune system, to lose their functionality. That’s why we have less immune surveillance. By having fewer guards, the cycle of inflammation that generates psoriasis is cut.

However, the dermatologist at the Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile and the Las Condes Clinic is categorical in clarifying that «Although the sun has a therapeutic effect at the moment, this does not justify the risks that can occur in the long term due to inadequate exposure to the sun’s rays, such as skin cancer.»

For this reason, it provides these recommendations so that patients with psoriasis can expose themselves to the sun in a healthy way:

  • Must avoid sun exposure between 10:30 and 16:00 hrs.
  • The sea, with its salty water, helps to hydrate the skin a little more. Fresh water from lakes also helps. On the other hand, the pool has disinfectants that can eventually irritate the skin of anyone with sensitive skin.
  • It is advisable shower after bathing in the beach or pool and hydrate immediately.
  • Avoid rubbing against clothes or suits to wear during the bath to prevent inflammation from occurring.
  • Continue with the treatment indicated by your dermatologist.
  • Patients with psoriasis usually have other diseases as well. For example, Medications to improve moods, or some anti-inflammatories, can cause greater sensitivity when exposed to the sun. For this reason, it is always important to consult a specialist if any of the drugs generates photosensitivity.
  • Consult with your doctor which sunscreen you should use and which one is suitable for your skin color and other characteristics, since each person requires an individual sunscreen.

The specialist in dermatology makes a call, on the one hand, to the general population “To understand that psoriasis is not contagious and that the more we discriminate against patients, the worse they feel and the less they want to live a full life. The message to patients is very important, that they show themselves and, to those of us who do not have psoriasis, we accept and do not prejudice «.