Swimming with Psoriasis: A How-To Guide

Psoriasis is a disease of the skin that causes scaly, red, itchy patches. The condition is common, chronic, and cyclical. That means that people with psoriasis usually experience flare-ups, then see symptoms subside for a bit. 

While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many different treatments designed to help people manage the condition and enjoy life. Sometimes, fun activities like swimming can be uncomfortable when flare-ups occur. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take in order to be able to enjoy a summer in the pool: 

  1. Keep Up With Treatment

It’s easier to enjoy the water if your psoriasis flare-ups are less severe. That means being consistent with your treatment plan, whatever that may be, is key. 

One popular treatment, home phototherapy, is a great option because it’s portable, effective and easy. The device, which is handheld, emits UV rays that reduce the local immune system and slow down the development of thick and scaly skin. The National Psoriasis Foundation has published several studies that indicate that the narrowband UVB rays that home phototherapy offers can clear psoriasis faster and produce longer remissions than broadband UVB rays. In addition, narrowband UVB rays are safe. Your dermatologist can determine how much exposure you need and how frequently you need it. 

  1. Choose Saltwater Over Chlorine

Saltwater pools are becoming increasingly popular, and that’s good news for anyone with psoriasis. Salt is easier on your skin than chlorine. Swimming in the ocean is a great option as well. 

If you know you’ll be going into a chlorinated pool, bring some chlorine-eliminating shampoo and soap with you so that you can remove the chlorine irritants from your skin and hair as soon as possible.

  1. Use a Skin Protectant and SPF

Whether you wind up in a traditional pool, a local lake or the Paficic Ocean, you’ll want to apply a skin protectant to any plaque or lesion. Over-the-counter petroleum jelly or mineral oil are a great option for protection.

You should also be sure to use SPF before any fun in the sun. While some UV light can help with your psoriasis, a full-on sunburn can be damaging. 

  1. Rinse Off Right Away

One rule for swimming with psoriasis is to be vigilant about rinsing off right away. Ideally, you’ll take a shower with soap and water, followed immediately by moisturizing and treating any plaques or lesions. If you can’t do that, a simple rinse off will do. This is especially important if you’ve been in a chlorinated pool.

  1. Keep Swim Time to a Minimum

Unfortunately, too much time in the water can cause flare-ups. While salt water can soothe your psoriasis, too much of a good thing can make your condition worse, especially if you are in warm water or a chemically-treated pool. Try to get out after 10 or 15 minutes. 

Psoriasis isn’t the easiest condition to manage, but you don’t need to let it stop you from enjoying the summer with family and friends. Talk to your dermatologist about phototherapy options as well as what other steps you can take to stay on top of your condition without having to give up your time in the pool. 

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