Psoriasis and sunscreen. Is there one I should be using?

August_2017Happy August! We’re thick in the throws of summer, so hopefully your psoriasis is finding some much needed relief in the warmth, humidity, and (moderate) sun exposure. There should still be plenty of beautiful days ahead, so now’s a great time to regroup and make sure you’re keeping up good habits and doing right by yourself and your skin.

The benefits of summer in alleviating psoriasis flare-ups have been known for a long time—but if you need a refresher, check out Who’s Ready for the Sun. And for more, Summertime Solutions for Psoriasis on WebMD covers everything from how oral psoriasis medications can affect light sensitivity, to how to balance your skin’s sun exposure.

The importance of balancing your exposure can’t be emphasized enough. The right amount of sunlight can nourish the skin and soothe your psoriasis, but too much can aggravate it—or worse yet, lead to more serious conditions like skin cancer. Always remember to moderate your exposure and avoid burns by seeking frequent shade, covering up, and applying an appropriate sunscreen.

In this case, appropriate means “broad-spectrum.” Also referred to as full-spectrum sunscreen, or simply sunblock, broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB, these being the two types of potentially damaging ultraviolet rays found in sunlight. Screen, block, full-spectrum or broad—whatever your preferred sunscreen brand calls itself, be sure to read the label carefully and confirm that both types of UV light are covered.

When choosing a sunscreen, SPF also needs to be considered—and 15 is the magic number here. Anything below SPF 15 doesn’t provide nearly enough protection. In fact, earlier this year CVS Pharmacy stopped carrying any sunscreens below 15 for this very reason. And while anything above 15 is technically “better”, the Mayo Clinic has concluded that the benefits are relatively minor.

The above sunscreen tips hold true for anyone spending time in the sun, but when it comes to psoriasis, triggers also need to be considered. And when it comes to sunscreen, “triggers” usually means fragrance. So do your skin a favor and stock up on broad-spectrum SPF 15, fragrance-free sunscreen. Apply it generously and often per the instructions, put on some breathable clothing, and get yourself outdoors while there’s still time to enjoy the sun.