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Q: Why does psoriasis get worse in the winter?

Posted January 16, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

A: Dry, cold air can cause dry skin and cracking, which aggravates psoriasis. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun helps slow down the rapid growth of skin cells that leads to formations of plaques in psoriasis. Less sun exposure in the winter can make psoriasis worse. The immune system your body uses to defend against germs affects psoriasis. Winter infections can worsen psoriasis by activating the immune system. Here are a few things to help protect yourself against the winter weather.

• Many dermatologists (skin doctors) offer light therapy. This is 15 to 30 minutes of UV light exposure. It requires many sessions but can be helpful.

 Make sure your skin is hydrated by moisturizing several times daily. Try to moisturize three to five minutes after bathing to trap the moisture in the skin. Lotion is easiest to put on and is less greasy, but creams or ointments are more moisturizing. Drinking lots of water every day and getting a humidifier for your home can also help.

• Protect yourself from getting sick by washing your hands often and getting lots of rest. You can get a flu shot if you have psoriasis. Flu shots contain a killed form of the influenza virus, so they cannot make you sick. Let your dermatologist know you are planning to get a flu shot and make sure you are not having an active flare when you get the shot.

Information provided by Hammer Pharmacy, 600 E. Grand Ave., East Village, 243-4177.

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