Sun exposure is usually discouraged due to skin cancer concerns and premature aging but for the 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis, the sun is a natural medication, says a Gottlieb Hospital doctor.
Psoriasis is caused when the immune system mistakes normal skin cells for pathogens and reacts by creating an overproduction of skin cells.
More than cosmetic concern
"[It] is much more than a cosmetic concern; it is often painful, difficult to heal and can be disfiguring," says Chicago dermatologist Julie Moore.
"The sun is one of the best treatments for psoriasis, so in summer I encourage my patients to sit out on the deck and give their affected areas a good sun bath.”
Whilst Moore is in no way encouraging people to sit out in the sun for hours, and is completely aware of the other dangers of overexposure to the sun, she states that 30 minutes is adequate to improve the skin; as the ultraviolet rays in the sun are beneficial to the irritated skin.
Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in America. There is no cure and it is a lifelong condition that flares up and calms down due to stress and environmental factors, explains the skin doctor.
Total direct and indirect health care costs of psoriasis for patients are calculated at $11.25 billion annually, with work loss accounting for 40 percent of the cost burden, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Approximately 60 percent of psoriasis patients missed an average of 26 days of work a year due to their illness.
In addition to sunlight, treatment includes medication, creams and artificial light exposure. "There are many creams that are excellent at dissolving "crusting" and promoting healing,” adds Moore.