Psoriasis is a condition that causes skin cells to regenerate too quickly. The extra skin cells stack on top of one another causing scaly-looking skin plaques that become uncomfortably itchy. People with psoriasis can be asymptomatic for a while and then experience a sudden flare-up. When a flare-up occurs, there are ways to manage symptoms until it subsides.
- Scalp Care
Scalp care is particularly important for those with psoriasis. They should be careful to avoid using shampoos that can irritate or dry out the scalp. Alcohol or fragrances in shampoos could exacerbate symptoms. Patients may want to rub or scratch their scalps, but this is not advisable. It could cause scabbing or bleeding of the scalp. In severe cases, hair loss could result.
- Air Conditions
Dry skin can exacerbate the symptoms of psoriasis, while moist, humid air can help relieve them. Skin can dry out during cold weather because the air is drier and forced heat can leach moisture from it. It is especially important to use a gentle moisturizer during these months. A humidifier can add more moisture to the air to help prevent skin from drying out.
- Bathing Habits
While humid air can help prevent dry skin, exposure to water can actually draw moisture out of your skin, leaving it drier than before. Obviously, there is no way to completely avoid exposure to water while maintaining good hygiene. Therefore, people with psoriasis should try to limit their time in the shower or bath to no more than 10 minutes. The water should only be warm as heat can cause evaporation of moisture in the skin. A skin moisturizer should be applied immediately after getting out of the shower or bath.
An injury to the skin can cause psoriasis to flare up. Sunburn is a relatively mild injury, but it could be sufficient to provoke a flare. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should protect your skin from sunburn and help prevent a flare. In addition to SPF, people with psoriasis should look at whether the sunscreen is resistant to water. With prolonged time spent out in the sun, people should reapply every two hours.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption
Alcohol can provoke psoriasis symptoms, causing more frequent flare-ups and shorter periods of remission, during which a person remains asymptomatic. Smoking can cause systemic inflammation. Abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, or at least limiting consumption, can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups for people with psoriasis.
People with psoriasis may want to think about supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids. These are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce flare-ups. There seems to be a link between psoriasis and overweight or obesity, so eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise could lead to a decrease in symptoms’ severity.
- Stress Reduction
The body isn’t able to differentiate between physical stress and mental stress. Therefore, it deals with both in the same way: An inflammatory response to ward off pathogens. Prolonged stress can therefore worsen symptoms of psoriasis. People with psoriasis should look into relaxation techniques, such as yoga, aromatherapy, or journaling. Sometimes the psoriasis diagnosis itself is the source of stress, in which case patients should talk to a doctor for suggestions on how to cope more effectively and a possible mental health referral.
- Light Therapy
While sunburn can cause psoriasis flare-ups, controlled exposure to either natural or artificial light for brief periods of time can actually provide relief by stimulating the production of vitamin D within the body. In fact, this is often one of the first treatments recommended for psoriasis. The key is to control the exposure so that it is long enough to be therapeutic but not so great that it could potentially damage the skin. Doctors often use artificial lights that simulate the sun but can be controlled.
- Topical Medications
Topical medications are applied directly to the skin in the area that is symptomatic. There are many different topical treatments for psoriasis, each offering different benefits. Examples of topical treatments for psoriasis include salicylic acid, corticosteroids, and coal tar. Sometimes these medications are added to grooming products such as soap.
People with psoriasis can feel alone and misunderstood. It can help to talk to people who are going through the same thing. Support groups are available for people to share their experiences with psoriasis with one another.