Why a Good Tan is Not the Answer to Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a dermatologic condition that we are beginning to hear about with greater frequency. The reason why is because treatment options for the chronic problem of visible plaques and other symptoms have improved significantly in recent years. Because there has been progressing in our understanding of psoriasis, as well as what might alleviate symptoms, there has also been an increase in confusion about the best way to approach this skin disease.
There is one particular idea about treating psoriasis that needs to be discussed: the idea that tanning is a viable treatment option. Many people with psoriasis naturally discover that their symptoms improve when they spend a little time in the sunshine. This doesn’t mean that symptoms disappear; it just means that they improve. How long they improve and to what degree varies from one person to another. The very fact that this has been noted, though, has led to a second theory: why not treat psoriasis by using an indoor tanning bed?
Tanning of any kind is a practice that comes with inherent risk. There is no way to avoid it. Therefore, relying on UV exposure as the sole treatment for psoriasis could be dangerous to the long-term health of the skin. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous because the light that is emitted by tanning lamps is not the same as natural UV light. Sunshine is composed of several wavelengths of ultraviolet light. One of them tans the skin, and one also leads to sunburn. A sunburn is our warning sign that our skin is being damaged. Tanning beds do not have that light. We need that warning, so we do not overexpose ourselves to dangerous ultraviolet rays.
Using UV Safely
Ultraviolet light does benefit the skin, especially when we are addressing psoriasis. Through research, it has been discovered that the most beneficial light is narrow-band UVB. This is the gentlest wavelength, and yet the wavelength of light that has the greatest impact on cellular turnover related to psoriasis plaques.
Psoriasis may be a chronic skin condition, but it doesn’t have to create persistent frustration. Call 610-594-6660 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists.