Psoriasis can cause extremely sore or painful skin. You may describe the pain as:
Psoriasis can also cause swollen, tender, and painful joints all over your body. Psoriasis that affects your joints is known as psoriatic arthritis.
The pain can come and go in cycles and will likely be different for everyone. Psoriasis pain can also be difficult to describe to your doctor. For these reasons, it’s important to be proactive to get the pain relief you need.
Here are a few tips to help you manage your pain due to psoriasis.
Doctors often simply measure skin pain as mild, moderate, or severe. But this doesn’t take into account how highly individualized and subjective psoriasis pain symptoms may be.
When communicating with your doctor, try to be as specific as possible about the pain you’re experiencing.
Make sure to include the following details:
- effects on your day-to-day life
- what makes it worse
- how you describe the pain’s character (burning, tender, aching, cramping, nagging, etc.)
Your triggers will likely be different from someone else’s triggers. You’ll have to spend some time figuring out what worsens your psoriasis pain and other symptoms. Then you can find the best way to avoid them.
You can choose to write in a journal or a smartphone app. This can help you keep track of what symptoms you’re feeling and what you ate or did on a given day.
For example, an app called Flaredown can help you identify what triggers your psoriasis flare-ups. You can track your pain levels, mental health status, activity, medications, diet, and weather conditions. This app is available for iPhone or Android.
Common psoriasis triggers include:
- too much sun
- drinking alcohol
- cold, dry weather
- red meat
- processed foods
- fatty foods
- certain medications
Severe psoriasis symptoms are often resistant to other treatments. Older systemic drugs like methotrexate and cyclosporine work by suppressing the immune system and keeping symptoms at bay.
But these drugs can produce side effects and can’t be used for a long period of time.
- etanercept (Enbrel)
- ustekinumab (Stelara)
- adalimumab (Humira)
- infliximab (Remicade)
- secukinumab (Cosentyx)
They’re given by injection. These systemic medications may also slow down the progression of psoriatic arthritis.
Your doctor will typically start with the mildest treatment and then progress to a stronger one if necessary. If you find that your prescribed treatment isn’t working to manage your pain, it’s important that you meet with your doctor to discuss your options for moving on to a systemic medication.
Lotions, ointments, and heavy moisturizing creams may help reduce itching, scaling, and dryness.
When selecting a product, be sure to avoid any products with fragrance, as it can irritate your skin.
Try a lukewarm bath with Epsom salt, colloidal oatmeal, or olive oil to soothe painful itching. Avoid using hot water, as it can dry out your skin and increase inflammation. Bathing daily helps remove scales and calm your skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting to just one bath every day and keeping it under 15 minutes.
Also, be sure not to use a soap containing sulfates. Avoid products with “sodium laurel sulfate” or “sodium laureth sulfate” on the label.
Once you’re done soaking, pat down your skin and apply a thick moisturizer.
Exercise can reduce inflammation and boost endorphins. Endorphins are neurochemicals that improve your mood and energy levels. They can also reduce pain. Exercise can also help you sleep better, which can in turn reduce stress.
If you also have psoriatic arthritis, moving your joints can ease stiffness. Biking, walking, hiking, or swimming are good options.
Obesity has also
If you’re stressed out, your psoriasis symptoms can get worse or feel worse. Too much stress can lead to depression and other mental health conditions. Depression can make your pain feel even worse.
Consider ways to reduce stress, such as:
- deep breathing exercises
- listening to music
- writing in a journal
- counseling or therapy
- one-on-one support groups or online support forums for people with psoriasis
Psoriasis is a disorder of the immune system. Your overactive immune system releases chemicals that trigger inflammation in your skin and other organs. Inflammation can cause pain.
Psoriasis plaques often become dry, cracked, and itchy. Frequent scratching can lead to even more pain, bleeding, or infections.
In one study, more than 43 percent of 163 people with psoriasis reported skin pain during the week before the study.
Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop joint pain and inflammation as a result of the condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Psoriasis can cause skin pain and joint pain. Home remedies, along with taking your prescribed medications, can help soothe your skin and reduce your symptoms.
See your doctor if your symptoms worsen or your joints begin to hurt. Your doctor may need to change your medication or prescribe a combination of several medications to manage your symptoms.
It’s essential that you effectively communicate your pain to your doctor so they can provide you with the most targeted treatment.