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Your Healthy Family: How the sun can benefit some skin conditions, but use caution

Posted at 10:18 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 12:18:43-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — If you have eczema or psoriasis, you’ve probably been told that spending time out in the sun can be good for your skin. While that is true, Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist for Cleveland Clinic, said it’s also important to make sure you’re not overdoing it.

“That’s a common question I get, ‘Can I get a little sun and see if that helps?’ and I think that’s something to think about, especially if you have psoriasis or atopic dermatitis,” said Dr. Piliang. “It’s important to keep in mind though, the sun increases your risk of skin cancer, especially the most deadly type of skin cancer – melanoma, so you still want to be careful and practice smart sun behaviors.”

Dr. Piliang said if you do plan to spend some time in the sun to help with your skin condition, make sure you are only out there for five to ten minutes at a time. You don’t want to get sunburned.

She recommends wearing sunscreen on all areas of your body you don’t want exposed directly to the sun. When it comes to sunscreen, you should be using one with an SPF over 30 that is broad-spectrum and is water-resistant. You could also wear a hat and sun protective clothing.

Dr. Piliang said even though the sun can be beneficial, it shouldn’t replace other forms of treatment like light therapy and prescription medications.

“There are so many treatment options out there beyond just the sunlight or moisturizers you can buy over the counter. The dermatologist can help you get your skin clear and on a treatment that is safe and effective and you can tolerate well,” she explained.

There is no known cure for skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, but Dr. Piliang said light therapy and medication can really make a difference.