Sunburn and Psoriasis

Probably almost every human being has at least once in their life experienced a sun burn.

What starts as a pleasant lying on the beach, working in the garden or staying out in the soothing warm rays of the sun can in a few hours turn into an unpleasant and painful burn of the skin.

The first sensation of sunburn can start anywhere from 30 minutes after the exposure to the UVA and/or UVB rays and up to 6 hours after. The most unpleasant sensations are usually noted in 12 to 24 hours after the exposure.

So what is sunburn? Sunburn is a skin damage that happens due to that at some point our skin cells – melanocytes – ceased to produce enough of the melanin pigment needed to protect the skin from the UVA and/or UVB rays. Just like any skin burn, sunburn manifests as an irritation of the skin and a skin damage of various degrees. It may be a slightly painful reddening of the skin or extremely painful water blisters on the skin.

Other common symptoms of severe sunburn may include dehydration, chills, fever, and nausea.

Sun in moderation is very beneficial for the skin of a human. Sun helps to form Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D participates in the growth and the regeneration of the cells. Scientists have proven that prolonged deficiency of the Vitamin D can actually cause the development of a skin cancer.

Sun in moderation is a great way for people with psoriasis to temporarily get rid of their psoriatic lesions, due to that the sun rays suppresses the inflammatory activity of the T-cells in people with psoriasis.

We know that prolonged deficiency of the sun can cause skin cancer, but what about an excessive exposure to the sun resulting in sunburn? The thing is that excessive sun causes negative changes to the DNA (carrier of the molecular information), and these changes can also cause a skin cancer.

There are 3 types of the ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. The UVC radiation of the sun is mostly stopped by the ozone layer of the atmosphere and therefore does not reach us. UVC radiation is also practically not used in the tanning beds, neither regular nor special tanning beds for psoriasis.

UVB rays, similar to the UVB rays of the sun are often used in a special tanning unit for treating psoriasis. With the lack of a natural sun people with psoriasis often use such UVB units.

UVA rays, similar to those in the sun are often used in the regular tanning units. People without psoriasis in the winter months may indulge in visiting such solarium.

In each of these cases – tanning in the sun, tanning on a regular tanning bed or tanning on a special tanning bed for psoriasis – there is a risk of developing sunburn.

Sunburn is even more negative for people with psoriasis due to the so-called Koebner effect – the appearance of the new psoriatic lesions on the spots of the skin trauma.

What to do? Just like with anything, sun tanning has to be done in moderation. Moderate beneficial UV exposure should not turn into a negative excessive exposure.

Wise thing to do is to suntan carefully and for a short period of time, especially in the beginning. Depending on your skin type and color you may be able to suntan for longer or shorter amounts of time.