Feature Archive

As Cool Winds Blow, Psoriasis Flares

When the fall season approaches, this skin disorder can worsen. Here's how to cope.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

As the hot, humid days of summer give way to cool autumn breezes, most folks breathe a sigh of relief. But this may not be the case if you suffer from psoriasis -- a chronic condition affecting the skin and joints of upwards of 4.5 million adults, as well as many children.

Indeed, as fall ushers in colder, drier air, psoriasis can worsen -- sometimes inviting more of the dry, scaly, itchy red patches associated with this condition to develop.

"The lack of humidity in the air allows the skin to retain moisture less well, and when that occurs, tiny cracks or fissures can develop on the surface of the skin," says Bruce Strober, MD, director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

Psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, knees, elbows, and torso but can develop more readily in areas where skin is traumatized or "broken." Strober says anything that causes that to happen -- like cool, dry air -- can also exacerbate the disease.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, this irritating skin condition comes in several different forms with varying levels of severity. In nearly all cases, however, it begins when the normal system of cell turnover goes awry.