Psoriasis affects about 3% of the Italian population and it has an important impact on the quality of life of patients. As Professor Antonio Costanzo, Head of Dermatology at Humanitas, explained: “Psoriasis can no longer be considered only a pathology of the skin, but is instead a real “systemic” disease, because it involves more organs and apparatuses. It has long been known that patients with psoriasis have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, depression and especially arthritis, favored by chronic inflammation.
Professor Costanzo also spoke in Corriere della Sera providing some holiday tips to psoriatic patients.
Ensure proper hydration: Drinking at least two liters of water a day contributes to a healthy skin barrier. It is also important to apply moisturizing creams after showering; this “helps prevent the recrudescence of the disease and helps the sun to extinguish the remaining psoriatic patches”.
Discuss the therapy with a dermatologist: Biological drugs do not have contraindications with respect to sun exposure, but it is advisable to have clear indications with respect to other systemic drugs because some need specific precautions, for example, use creams with high sun protection simultaneously or a reformulation of the dosage, while other drugs are contraindicated. “Some therapies, in fact, can be photosensitizing (you are more predisposed to burn) and solar erythema can stimulate the appearance of new patches and therefore should be avoided”.
The benefits of the sun: Exposure to the sun is beneficial for patients with psoriasis: “The ultraviolet fraction of the sun is in fact a powerful skin immunosuppressant because it kills T lymphocytes, cells of the immune system that infiltrate the skin (and cause the appearance of psoriatic patches) and deactivate other cells of the immune system that help T lymphocytes to maintain inflammation”. The sun then increases the production of endorphins, with important benefits on mood tone and stress reduction, thus contributing to the disappearance of psoriatic patches.
Beware of trauma: Not just burns, but also insect bites, jellyfish stings and falls can cause the appearance of psoriatic patches in the “traumatized” area. In these cases, it is advisable to immediately apply a cortisone cream to prevent the appearance of a psoriatic plaque. “Better prevent trauma by using low DEET repellents or lemongrass candles. Psoriatic lesions usually occur from 10 to 14 days after a skin trauma; in case of stings you have to keep an eye on the skin, Prof. Costanzo recommends.
In the pool: Chlorine may have a mild irritant effect, but it does not encourage the reappearance of lesions. The advice is to apply a barrier cream before swimming and then wash with a mild detergent and moisturize the skin.