More than 7.5 million Americans are currently living with psoriasis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the skin. If you happen to be one of these people, you’ve no doubt experienced discomfort from psoriasis flare-ups at some point. Although there’s currently no cure for psoriasis, you may find some relief from symptoms by using the following insider tips. With proper management and care, you can keep your psoriasis symptoms at bay and feel good in your own skin.
1. Refine your skincare routine
Properly moisturizing your skin is an essential part of managing psoriasis. There are a wide variety of lotions, creams, ointments, and oils available to help with symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which topical treatment might be best for you. Although it may be tempting and seem counterintuitive, don’t over-moisturize your skin because it can cause dryness and cracking. Doctors typically recommend moisturizing only once or twice a day to prevent over-saturation.
2. Manage your stress
High levels of stress can sometimes lead to psoriasis flare-ups, and flare-ups themselves can be quite stressful at times. Teach yourself stress management techniques for when you need to calm yourself down. Deep breathing exercises and meditation are two quick and easy stress-relieving techniques you can practice in the comfort of your own home. Yoga classes or brisk walks around the neighborhood are great ways to alleviate stress when you feel like getting out of the house.
3. Watch what you eat
Although a concrete link between diet and psoriasis has yet to be found, certain inflammatory foods are more likely to trigger a flare-up for some people. Try to avoid red meat, dairy products, and nightshade vegetables like peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Instead, choose colorful fruits and vegetables like spinach, carrots, and mangos. Make an effort to add foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like olive oil and walnuts, to your diet. They’re known to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Catch some (UV) rays
The UV light provided by the sun can be beneficial for managing your psoriasis symptoms. Try to spend a controlled amount of time (10 to 15 minutes) outdoors every day. The lack of sunlight during winter months is a major risk factor for psoriasis flare-ups. Talk to your doctor about light therapy options that can help you get your recommended dose of UV rays. Tanning beds are not an appropriate substitute for light therapy sessions or natural sunlight. This is because they substantially increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
5. Stay in shape
Keeping fit with regular exercise can help improve psoriasis symptoms. Staying active can also decrease your chances of developing psoriatic arthritis because it reduces the weight on your joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every adult get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Good examples include walking, gardening, or cycling. Since certain physical activities can irritate sensitive patches of psoriasis, finding an exercise routine that works for you may take some trial and error. If you’re having trouble, ask your doctor to recommend some low-impact activities that are well-suited to your own psoriasis needs.
6. Avoid smoking and drinking
Cigarette smoke and alcohol have been linked to an increased risk of psoriasis flare-ups and a lower response to treatments. If you’re a smoker, you’re likely aware of the risks it poses to your heart and lungs. Cigarettes could also contribute significantly to your skin condition. Similarly, if you’re a heavy drinker, you may be dehydrating your skin and triggering flare-ups. A drink or two on occasion is fine, but moderation is key. If you’re struggling to quit smoking or drinking, talk to your doctor about strategies that might help you stay on track.
7. Wear comfortable clothes
We all want to be fashionable, but not wearing the proper materials can make your psoriasis symptoms worse. Thick fabrics like wool are great for keeping warm, but they’re also scratchy and may irritate sensitive patches of your skin. The best way to avoid flare-ups from scratchy fabrics is to dress in layers. Always keep soft, natural fibers like cotton or bamboo on the bottom, directly against your skin. Tight fabrics like spandex can also cause painful rubbing and chafing against damaged skin, so try to wear loose-fitting clothes during flare-ups.