Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition where your body makes new skin cells at a rapid rate. There’s no cure, but your symptoms may come and go in periods of flares and remission.
There are several different types of psoriasis, which can cause various skin symptoms and affect different areas of the body.
- patches of raised, itchy, and scaly skin
- small scaly bumps
- pus-filled blisters called pustules
- a red, peeling rash that affects your entire body
Psoriasis flares can last anywhere from
Although psoriasis is a lifelong condition, you have plenty of treatment options. Learning what triggers your flares can also make a difference, since managing these triggers may help minimize flares and lead to longer periods of remission.
Here’s what to know about how long psoriasis flares last — and steps you can take to reduce them in the future.
Flares don’t last for any set length of time.
So, it’s possible for your symptoms to clear up within just a few weeks — but they might also last for a number of months.
This is true for all types of psoriasis, explains Dr. Crystal Dinopol, a board certified dermatologist and medical writer for The Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation. In other words, certain types don’t necessarily involve longer-lasting flares.
The frequency of flares can also vary. You might experience flare-ups every month or so, or only once every few years.
Following the treatment regimen recommended by your dermatologist can help relieve your symptoms and may shorten the length of the flare-up.
Many people experience remission between flares.
For some people, remission means psoriasis symptoms disappear almost entirely. But for others, symptoms become less severe or noticeable. They improve to the point where you notice them less, but they don’t go away completely.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, remission commonly lasts between 1 month to a year. Again, though, this may vary from person to person, so remission may last several months or a few years.
To make periods of remission last longer, Dinopol recommends avoiding any known triggers and following treatment advice from your dermatologist.
Very often, flare-ups may happen in response to specific triggers. Examples of possible triggers include:
- cold weather
- dry air
- alcohol use
- cigarette smoking
- skin injuries, such as from bug bites, sunburns, poison ivy, tattoos, piercings, or cuts
- illnesses, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and ear infections
- certain medications, such as beta blockers and antimalarial drugs
- certain foods, including those that contain gluten and nightshade plants
With that in mind, these tips may help lower your chances of experiencing a flare-up:
- Try to avoid eating inflammatory or potentially triggering foods such as dairy products, fried food, red meat, fast food, and processed sweets. These foods may trigger flares in some people with psoriasis.
- Incorporate stress management and relaxation techniques into your daily life. Examples include meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.
- Apply moisturizer daily. Moisturizers containing mineral oils may
prove especially helpfulfor managing psoriasis.
- Use a humidifier in your home, particularly during the dryer and colder seasons.
- Wear sunscreen every day and reapply after every 2 hours of sun. Some people do find that getting some sunlight each day can help ease symptoms. Still, it’s best to discuss sun exposure with a doctor — and limit your time in the sun to prevent sunburn, which can cause flares.
- Take precautions to avoid cuts and other skin injuries. For example, shave carefully, wear bug spray, and use gloves while gardening.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
A dermatologist will help you identify your triggers and work with you to create a specific treatment plan tailored to the type of psoriasis you have and your specific symptoms.
Your treatment options may include:
- Steroid creams: Topical steroids, which you can get over the counter (OTC) or with a prescription, may relieve inflammation and itching.
- Nonsteroidal topical medications: These treatments may include anthralin or synthetic vitamin D3 and vitamin A to help control scaly patches.
- Prescription systemic medications: These drugs typically include oral medications or injections that help treat psoriasis throughout your whole body, not just on a specific area of skin.
- Phototherapy: Light therapy uses specific wavelengths of UV light to slow down the production of new skin cells and reduce inflammation. You can have this treatment in-office or at home with a special light therapy device.
- Oral retinoids: Prescription retinoid medications derived from vitamin A can slow skin cell growth while reducing swelling, irritation, and skin discoloration.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs): These prescription medications are often used to treat eczema, but a doctor may prescribe them off-label to treat facial psoriasis.
- Oatmeal baths: Adding 1–1.5 cups of colloidal oatmeal to bathwater can help reduce itching and swelling.
- Aloe vera gel: Applying a cream with aloe vera helps keep your skin moisturized and may minimize symptoms of psoriasis.
- Coal tar: Shampoos, ointments, bath solutions, and soaps made with coal tar may help reduce itchiness and scales.
Psoriasis flares can last anywhere from weeks to months, and the periods of remission in between may last months or years. The key to making remission last longer — and keeping flare-ups at bay — lies in identifying and avoiding your specific triggers as much as possible.
Psoriasis may not have a cure, but you do have options for managing and treating this lifelong skin condition.
If you’re having trouble finding OTC medications or home remedies that help control your symptoms, a good next step is connecting with a dermatologist. They can prescribe medications to help ease your symptoms and make recommendations for lifestyle changes that may provide lasting relief.
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance writer covering health and wellness, fitness, food, lifestyle, and beauty. Her work has also appeared in Insider, Bustle, StyleCaster, Eat This Not That, AskMen, and Elite Daily.