Psoriasis is caused when the immune system mistakes normal skin cells for pathogens and reacts by creating an overproduction of skin cells in response. “Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in America,” Moore said. “There is no cure for psoriasis and it is a lifelong disease that flares up and subsides due to stress, illness and unknown factors.” The total direct and indirect health care cost of psoriasis to patients is calculated to be $ 11.25 billion per year, with lost work accounting for 40% of the cost burden, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. About 60% of patients with psoriasis missed an average of 26 days of work per year due to their illness.
Sun exposure is generally discouraged because of the harmful rays that can cause skin cancer and premature aging, but for the 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis, the sun is a natural medicine. “The sun is one of the best treatments for psoriasis.
How Much Sun Is Useful
Sunlight can help treat psoriasis, but it’s important to slowly increase exposure and set limits to avoid damage that can trigger a flare-up of skin involvement.
Before going out in the sun, make sure that:
- All areas of the skin affected by psoriasis will have equal exposure all other areas are protected with sunscreen or clothing Start by exposing the affected areas for 5-10 minutes at the same time each day, such as at noon.
- This will allow the body to absorb sunlight and reduce the chance of damage from the sun.
- Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to all areas of unaffected skin.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Do natural sun therapy sessions when the sun is at its strongest.
Anyone who undergoes phototherapy should avoid this type of sun exposure. This includes people who use PUVA, a light therapy that involves a combination of UVA rays and a drug called psoralen.
Dr. Moore shared the following information about psoriasis:
- Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body from the scalp to the bottoms of the feet and even in fingernails and toenails.
- Psoriasis is often the most stubborn on hands and feet. One of Moore’s most troublesome cases was an older man. “He had severe psoriasis on his thumb and the top of his index finger, exacerbated by regular use of a lighter when igniting his pipe,” Moore said. “Hands and feet are in constant use and subject to friction from movement, which aggravates psoriasis even more if present in these areas.”
- “Although it is natural to want to ‘pick’ off the scaling or rough patches caused by psoriasis, this is actually one of the worst things you can do,” Moore said. “There are many creams that can be used to dissolve scales and promote healing.”
- Contrary to popular belief, psoriasis does not usually itch.
The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that psoriasis has a strong genetic link and that if both parents have it, the child has a 50% chance of having it. If one of the parents has it, the child has a 10% chance of developing psoriasis.