Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong skin condition that has no cure. The most important thing you can do to manage psoriasis is work with a dermatologist to create a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Yet the steps you take to manage psoriasis at home can be equally important. That’s where self-care comes in.
Self-care is defined as your ability to manage your own health with or without a healthcare professional. It’s a way to support your well-being on a day-to-day basis.
Psoriasis is often marked by flares and periods of remission. Self-care strategies can help relieve symptoms during times of psoriasis activity. It can also extend the time in remission.
Effective self-care can also support your relationship with your healthcare professional,
Try these self-care strategies to help you live as comfortably as possible with psoriasis.
Soaking in a lukewarm bath can help soothe skin affected by psoriasis. Just be sure to keep these tips in mind to avoid skin irritation:
- Limit your time in the bath to no more than 15 minutes each day.
- Bathe in lukewarm water.
- Cleanse with a gentle soap made for sensitive skin.
- Gently pat your skin dry.
- Apply a thick moisturizer while your skin is still damp, which will lock in moisture and help prevent your skin from drying out.
Exposing skin affected by psoriasis to natural sunlight may help improve the appearance of skin lesions.
That said, it’s important to take steps to avoid a sunburn, which can make psoriasis worse. Apply fragrance-free sunscreen to exposed skin, including psoriasis plaques.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for 5 to 10 minutes of sun exposure each day. Ask your doctor for specific recommendations on how much time is safe for you to spend in the sun.
Cleanse your skin with a gentle, fragrance-free soap made for sensitive skin.
Moisturize regularly, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests, especially after washing areas affected by psoriasis. This helps keep moisture in your skin. It also helps reduce redness and itching.
As much as you can, avoid scratching skin with psoriasis. Try applying a cool compress to the area to reduce psoriasis itch. Using over-the-counter products containing menthol or camphor can also help soothe itchy skin.
Be gentle with psoriasis scales. Use medication like salicylic acid to soften scales before attempting to remove them.
Stress is a common psoriasis trigger. If you feel that your psoriasis gets worse when you’re stressed, it’s important to take steps to manage stress.
The AAD suggests trying relaxation techniques, like:
- deep breathing
In a 2018 survey conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation, 10 percent of respondents said they had tried meditation to relieve psoriasis, while a little over 8 percent said they had turned to yoga for help.
High quality sleep may also help reduce feelings of stress. And there’s some evidence that lack of sleep can make psoriasis worse.
At the same time, a psoriasis flare can make it harder to sleep.
A 2016 research review found that insomnia and psoriasis are often linked. Psoriasis-related pain and itchiness are often the main culprits behind sleep loss. Taking steps to manage psoriasis symptoms may, in turn, help you get better sleep.
A balanced diet and regular exercise can help improve overall physical and mental health, according to the AAD.
Diet and exercise may help prevent health conditions related to psoriasis, like diabetes and heart disease. Healthy lifestyle habits can also lead to weight loss, which may reduce flares and help your psoriasis treatment work better.
People living with psoriasis may also have an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression,
Quitting smoking (if you smoke) and avoiding alcohol can improve how well psoriasis medications work and lead to fewer flares. It can also increase the length of psoriasis remission.
Plus, limiting or avoiding these habits can reduce your risk of developing other health conditions that affect the heart, blood vessels, liver, and gums. It can also reduce the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, like Crohn’s disease.
Psoriasis affects everyone differently. One possible key to self-care is determining your individual psoriasis triggers so you can take steps to avoid them and prevent psoriasis flares.
According to the AAD, some common triggers of psoriasis include:
- skin injury like a cut, scrape, or bite
- alcohol use
- cold or warm weather
- systemic infection like earache or bronchitis
Try keeping a journal of when your psoriasis gets worse, noting what else you were doing at the time of a flare.
Once you can pinpoint your psoriasis triggers, you can take steps to avoid them. This can help you manage psoriasis flares and increase periods of remission.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition.
Aside from following your treatment plan, taking additional steps to manage psoriasis can help alleviate symptoms, decrease the frequency and severity of flares, and lengthen periods of remission.
Following a psoriasis-friendly lifestyle can also improve your overall mental and physical well-being.