Psoriasis :: Sea, Salt, and Sun
Some psoriasis sufferers have tried salt water to relieve their itchy or painful skin. Some have even made pilgrimages to the world’s saltiest lake, the Dead Sea.
“The Dead Sea is excellent for psoriatic treatment,” says Lawrence C. Parish, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology and cutaneous biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “But no one knows if the water itself has merit or whether the sun is the important part.” As the lowest point on the planet, the Dead Sea region has unique weather and receives a distinctive spectrum of ultraviolet light from the sun.
Soaking in bath water containing Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts may have limited value. “It can help remove the scales of psoriasis and make people feel better,” says Parish, “but no one has shown these salts to have a therapeutic effect.”
Whether at the Dead Sea or anywhere else, sunlight can have a positive effect on psoriasis. “But be reasonable about it,” Parish says. “A little bit of sun is fine.” He advises wearing a wide-brimmed hat and applying sunscreen several times a day. “Anyone who wears makeup knows if you put it on at 8 o’clock in the morning, it doesn’t last until 8 at night,” he says, and neither does sunscreen.