Knowing your psoriasis triggers can go a long way to helping prevent flare-ups. As you may already know, the most common triggers include stress, injury, illness, and excessive exposure to sunlight.
However, each person has a unique set of triggers that make dealing with another episode of psoriasis more likely. You can’t always control your triggers or stop them. Still, you can manage some aspects of the disease and how your body responds to them.
Here are 10 tips for helping make psoriasis more manageable.
1. Take frequent baths
A warm bath or shower every day may help remove scales and soothe inflamed skin. Just don’t scrub your skin with a hard sponge.
Instead, gently soak in bath oils or salts, or wash your skin with a gentle cotton washcloth. Use warm water, not hot water. Hot water may aggravate the skin and make symptoms worse.
Also, avoid scented bath products. Fragrances often irritate sensitive skin.
2. Moisturize your skin
Taking good care of your skin may help ease symptoms and prevent irritation in the event of future flare-ups. Hydrate regularly with moisturizing lotions.
Scented soaps and lotions may aggravate sensitive skin, so look for hypoallergenic options.
Ointments and creams may help hold in moisture better than lotions.
3. Avoid dry, cold climates
Dry air can wick moisture from your skin, which may make plaques itch and hurt.
Warm air is often better for people with psoriasis, but if you must be in low-humidity environments or places, be sure to moisturize more frequently to ease discomfort and itching.
4. Run a humidifier in dry environments
In some altitudes and during certain seasons, humidity can be very low. Dry air can reduce your skin’s natural moisture, which may make plaques itch and hurt. In cold months, certain heating systems can also dry out the air in your home.
During those times, a humidifier is an easy way to help your skin maintain its moisture so your skin doesn’t dry out, crack, and hurt.
5. Expose your skin to the sun in small doses
Light therapy is a commonly used treatment for psoriasis. It’s quite effective and often combined with other treatments for the best results. However, you should only try this with advice and consent from your doctor. A controlled amount of sunlight may help reduce lesions and ease symptoms. Too much sun can be harmful. That’s why it’s so important you work with your doctor or dermatologist on this therapy technique.
6. Boost your diet
There’s not much research that shows dietary changes are effective for managing psoriasis. However, some anecdotal evidence points to possible relief through nutrition. In addition, many of the suggested changes can easily be worked into a healthy-eating regimen.
For example, some doctors recommend an anti-inflammatory diet for people with psoriasis. This requires people to avoid red meat, dairy products, refined sugar, processed foods, and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers). Individuals with psoriasis may also find some symptom relief with a gluten-free diet.
7. Consider supplements and vitamins
As with the diet you eat, studies have not shown a strong link between vitamins and supplements and psoriasis.
Topical ointments that contain vitamin D are regularly prescribed to treat psoriasis, so some people see promise in oral vitamin D supplements.
Talk with your doctor before you begin taking any supplements or vitamins. Be sure they don’t interfere with any prescriptions you’re currently taking.
8. Balance your medications
When psoriasis is dormant, your doctor may suggest you stop using psoriasis medicines so they’re less likely to lose their effectiveness. Other medicines you take, however, may affect your body. Consult with your doctor about all medicines you take to see if one of your prescriptions might trigger a flare-up or affect your psoriasis.
9. Clean up your habits
Smoking and excessive drinking are two common psoriasis triggers. They also reduce your body’s resiliency and ability to bounce back after illness. All of these things could trigger a psoriasis flare-up.
In addition to just being good for your health, kicking these habits can help reduce flare-ups and may make symptoms of psoriasis easier to manage when a flare-up occurs.
10. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Research suggests that long-term weight loss can positively benefit people with psoriasis. In particular, weight loss may help reduce severity of the disease. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial to your overall health, but it may also help make life with psoriasis easier to manage.
These lifestyle changes and tips may help you manage psoriasis symptoms, but they aren’t a substitute for medical treatment. Your doctor will likely suggest you try these lifestyle changes together with more traditional treatments, including topical ointments.