Some ways to manage psoriasis flare-ups include moisturizing, trying OTC treatments, reducing stress levels, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and joining a support group, among others.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that may cause scaly, itchy, and sometimes painful skin plaques and lesions.

Flare-ups are periods when your symptoms reappear or worsen.

The best way to help prevent psoriasis flare-ups is by following your treatment plan. However, it’s still possible to experience flare-ups.

Here are 10 ways to help you manage psoriasis flare-ups.

The most common symptoms of psoriasis are plaques of dry skin that may be scaly, itchy, and flaky.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) suggests that regularly moisturizing your skin may help lock in moisture. This could help promote skin healing and relieve symptoms.

Different types of moisturizers are available over-the-counter (OTC), such as:

  • Emollients: These create a protective skin barrier to help lock in water and prevent water loss from the skin.
  • Corticosteroids: These ointments help manage flare-ups by reducing inflammation.

When choosing an OTC moisturizer, the AADA suggests looking for fragrance-free products.

Some essential oils may also help moisturize your skin, such as:

However, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before applying essential oils or new OTC moisturizers. These may irritate your skin, which could worsen your symptoms.

Other tips to help moisturize your skin include:

  • taking showers with lukewarm water
  • applying moisturizer within 5 minutes after showering, washing your face, or washing your hands
  • taking baths with colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts

When choosing an OTC moisturizer, the AADA suggests looking for products that contain coal tar. This has been used in the treatment of psoriasis for nearly 100 years.

Coal tar has some antibacterial properties and it could provide relief from itching, dryness, and flaking.

Coal tar is found in many OTC products for psoriasis, such as:

  • shampoos
  • bath foams
  • soaps
  • ointments

That said, it’s best to avoid using OTC coal tar products on sensitive skin, such as your face and genital areas.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using OTC coal tar products or if your symptoms don’t improve after 4 weeks of use. They may provide a better treatment option for you.

Up to 80% of people with psoriasis experience scalp psoriasis.

Itchy, scaly plaques typically affect your hairline and the back of your head, but they could develop anywhere on your scalp. These plaques may flake.

It’s important not to scratch your scalp during a flare-up. This may cause bleeding, scarring, infections, and sometimes hair loss.

Treatments for scalp psoriasis include medication shampoos, lotions, and gels. A scale softener that contains salicylic acid may also help soften and loosen patches of psoriasis plaque during a flare-up.

Avoid using shampoos containing fragrance and alcohol, as these may dry out the scalp and worsen symptoms.

Stress may trigger psoriasis flare-ups by causing more inflammation, which could lead to symptoms.

Some ways to help reduce your stress levels may include:

Speak with a healthcare professional if psoriasis is affecting your mental health. They could refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker.

You may also 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.

The relationship between diet and psoriasis isn’t so clear.

However, some people report benefits when adding or removing certain foods from their diets. A 2017 study found that adding or reducing the following foods helped improve psoriasis:

Foods to avoidFoods to eat
• alcohol
• gluten
• nightshades, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers
• processed foods, such as candy, pastries, chocolate, and potato chips
• dairy products
• high fat products
• red meat
• caffeine
• fish oil
• omega-3 supplements
• vegetables
• vitamin D supplements
• probiotics
• organic foods
• fruits

Keeping a food journal could help you identify any triggers that could be causing psoriasis flare-ups. Try writing down what you eat, any symptoms you experience, and when.

Bringing this food journal to an appointment with a healthcare professional could help them develop the best treatment plan for you.

While avoiding or limiting inflammatory foods may help improve psoriasis, changing your diet won’t cure psoriasis.

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.

The National Psoriasis Foundation provides many online resources to help you connect with others living with psoriasis.

Research suggests that smoking may increase your chance of developing psoriasis and worsen your symptoms.

The AADA suggests that quitting smoking may provide several benefits if you have psoriasis, including:

  • 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

Speak with a healthcare professional if you decide to use a nicotine patch to help you quit smoking, as some nicotine patches may trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

Alcohol may worsen your symptoms of psoriasis due to its inflammatory properties.

According to the AADA, there are several benefits to limiting alcohol if you have psoriasis, including:

  • increased remissions
  • for females, reduced chance of developing psoriatic arthritis
  • reduced chance of developing fatty liver disease
  • lessened chance 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 of 30 or higher is best.

Dry, cold weather is a common trigger for psoriasis. Some tips to help manage psoriasis flare-ups include:

  • moisturizing regularly
  • taking warm baths for no more than 10 minutes
  • eating warm foods

Indoor heating and low moisture environments are also psoriasis triggers. Try plugging in a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air to relieve dry skin.

How do you calm down a psoriasis flare-up?

Some tips to help you calm down a psoriasis flare-up include relieving stress, moisturizing, quitting smoking, and eating a well-balanced diet, among others.

Why does psoriasis suddenly flare up?

Psoriasis may flare up suddenly due to a trigger, such as stress or coming into contact with environmental irritants like dry weather, tobacco smoke, or sunshine.

How long does it take a psoriasis flare-up to heal?

The amount of time varies for each individual and depends on several factors, such as your symptom severity, treatment plan, and general health condition. Flare-ups may last a few days, weeks, or even months. It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional who could provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for your health condition.

Psoriasis flare-ups may be painful and could affect your quality of life.

Following your treatment plan is the best way to help prevent flare-ups. However, some tips could also help you manage your symptoms if they worsen.

Speak with a healthcare professional if your flare-ups don’t improve. They could help provide a treatment plan for you.