Taking your medication as directed by your doctor is the first step in preventing psoriasis flare-ups.
You can also do other things to minimize symptoms and get relief quickly. Here are 10 to consider.
Keeping your skin lubricated can go a long way in preventing or worsening dry, itchy skin caused by a psoriasis flare-up. It can also help reduce redness and heal the skin, making your flare-up easier to manage.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends using heavy creams or ointments that lock in water. Look for moisturizers that are fragrance-free or alcohol-free. Fragrances and alcohol can actually dry out your skin.
If you’re looking for a natural or cost-effective solution, you can use cooking oils or shortening to keep your skin moisturized. When in doubt, ask your dermatologist for a recommendation.
Take shorter showers with lukewarm water to help protect your skin’s moisture. Be sure to use fragrance-free soaps. Always apply moisturizer after showering, washing your face, or washing your hands.
Add oil to bathwater if you prefer taking baths, or are looking to soothe dry, itchy skin. Soaking in Epsom or Dead Sea salts is recommended for itchy skin. Be sure to limit your bath time to 15 minutes and moisturize immediately afterward.
Try putting your creams or moisturizers in the refrigerator. This can help soothe the burning sensation that often accompanies the itching during a flare-up.
Try to resist the urge to scratch or rub your scalp during a flare-up. Doing so can cause bleeding, scabbing, and even hair loss.
Avoid using shampoos containing fragrance and alcohol. These products can dry out the scalp and worsen or even cause more flare-ups. When washing your hair, be gentle. Avoid scratching or scrubbing your scalp.
A scale softener that contains salicylic acid can help soften and loosen patches of psoriasis plaque during a flare-up.
Stress can cause flare-ups because your body copes with stress through inflammation. The immune systems of people with psoriasis release too many of the chemicals that are released during an infection or injury.
Speak to your doctor if your psoriasis is causing you stress and anxiety. They may be able to offer suggestions for coping with stress. They can also refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker.
Practicing meditation or yoga, exercising, or spending time doing things you enjoy can also reduce your stress levels.
You may find it helpful to connect with others who have psoriasis. Check with your local hospital for a psoriasis support group, or search online for one in your area.
Researchers haven’t found a link confirming diet to psoriasis. However, evidence suggests that what you eat might increase your risk for psoriasis and could affect how well your psoriasis responds to treatment.
Eating a healthy diet could also help reduce the severity of flare-ups.
A 2013 study found that people who had overweight or obesity and psoriasis experienced a reduction in the severity of their psoriasis with a healthier diet and more exercise.
Nutritional supplements or foods containing omega-3 fatty acids may also help with your psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a decrease in inflammation.
Some sources of omega-3 include:
- fish oil supplements
- fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines
- nuts and seeds
- vegetable oils
Speak with your doctor before increasing the amount of fish oil in your diet. High amounts may thin the blood and aren’t recommended for people taking blood thinners.
Joining a local support group can help you connect with others who understand some of the challenges involved with living with psoriasis.
Plus, a support group will help you realize you’re not alone. You’ll also have the opportunity to share ideas for managing psoriasis symptoms with others.
Coal tar solutions can ease psoriasis symptoms. They’re often found in local drugstores and include:
- medicated shampoos
- bath foams
Treatments you can buy without a doctor’s prescription often cost less. Your doctor may include coal tar as part of a treatment plan.
Treatments that contain coal tar relieve:
- plaque-type psoriasis
- scalp psoriasis
- psoriasis on the palms of hands and soles of feet (palmoplantar psoriasis)
Avoid using coal tar if:
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You’re sensitive to sunlight.
- You’re taking medication that makes you more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Quitting smoking can have the following benefits for people with psoriasis:
- reduced risk of inflammation that affects the heart, liver, blood vessels, and gums
- reduced chance of developing Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune conditions
- fewer incidents of psoriasis flares
- increased periods with little or no occurrence of flares
- experience less palmoplantar psoriasis
If you decide to use a nicotine patch to help you quit smoking, ask your doctor first. Some nicotine patches can cause your psoriasis to flare.
Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of your prescribed treatment plan. Here’s how:
- Your treatment may stop working or not work as effectively as it should.
- You may experience fewer remissions (lengths of time without flares).
There are several benefits to limiting alcohol if you have psoriasis, including:
- increased remissions
- for women, reduced risk of developing psoriatic arthritis
- reduced risk of developing fatty liver disease
- lessened risk of liver damage due to psoriasis medications
A sunburn causes injury to the skin, which then may cause psoriasis to flare.
If you plan to spend time outdoors, apply sunscreen to all exposed skin before you go outside to prevent a flare. Water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is best.
For some people, psoriasis flares increase in fall and winter.
Dry indoor heating can cause dry skin, which can worsen psoriasis. Moisturizing dry skin can reduce flares that occur during the coldest months of the year.
Apply a quality moisturizer to your skin after your daily shower or anytime your skin feels dry. Use warm water when bathing or showering, not hot. Limit bath time to no more than 10 minutes.
Plug in a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air to relieve dry skin.