If you struggle with keeping your psoriasis flare ups under control, you’ve probably tried every cream, oatmeal product, and prescription on the market without success. While the itchy, inflamed skin that comes with psoriasis is treatable, it can be a real burden to know what can actually bring you and your skin relief. Making simple tweaks to your daily routine can promote healing and calm flare-ups with the following 7 tips:
Keep Your Skin Moist
It's one of the most effective yet easiest things you can do for irritated skin. It can help your skin heal and reduce dryness, itching, redness, soreness, and scaling.
Choose your moisturizer based on how dry your skin is. Creams or balms are thick, heavy, and good at locking in moisture. Lotions are thinner and get absorbed more easily. Or, you can pick a cream that falls somewhere in between. Remember, a product doesn’t have to be expensive to work well either! Just look for a fragrance-free moisturizer to avoid irritating your skin further.
Helpful tip: After your bath or shower is the ideal time to gently pat on creams. Reapply throughout the day and when you change clothes. Use more on cold or dry days.
Another way to keep your skin moist is to use a humidifier in your home, especially when the air is hot and dry. If the heat is on, turn on the humidifier. It will help your skin retain moisture better.
Soothe With Warm Baths
A daily warm bath using a body wash without the drying effects of soap or lathering agents can help soothe itchy spots and ease dry skin. Take 15 minutes to soak in the warm water. You might find comfort if you add oil, finely ground oatmeal, or Epsom salt to your bath, but keep the water and bath products mild. Hot temperatures and harsh soaps can be hard on skin that's already sensitive and can exacerbate flare-ups.
Try not to rub your skin with the towel as you dry off. Gently pat dry instead. The rubbing action can make sores worse and even cause new ones. Follow immediately with a moisturizer! If you don't have time for a bath, you can still put a wet towel or cold compress on the trouble spot.
Heal With Sunlight
The ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight can slow the growth of skin cells, so small doses of the sun can be a good way to soothe, improve, and even heal psoriasis lesions. Even indoor light can make a difference. Try to get some sun two or three times a week, and use sunscreen on your healthy skin.
Take It Easy
Studies show that stress can make psoriasis and itching worse. Some people even trace their first outbreak to a very stressful event. You might be able to calm symptoms simply by lowering your anxiety.
There are many ways to lower stress such as building a support system of family and friends, making time for what's most important to you, and taking up yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to help. Even a long walk around the neighborhood might calm you before bed!
Other ways to reduce stress:
- Eat healthy.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
These will also help you fight off infections that may trigger flares.
Avoid Certain Ingredients
Staying away and removing harsh products like lotions with alcohol, deodorant soaps, acids (glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid), and even some laundry soaps can drastically make a difference with your psoriasis. These types of ingredients are known to inflame your sensitive skin. Even textures from the fabric of the clothes you buy can cause irritation so make sure they are soft and comfortable. Avoid wool and mohair and pick breathable fabrics instead.
Try Not to Scratch and Pick
There's no doubt about it: When you itch, you want to scratch. But scratching can tear open your skin, making way for infection-causing germs. It may also make sores appear where there weren't any before. Keep your nails short and take an antihistamine if you are itchy (or find a body cream that has ingredients known to be anti-inflammatory and an analgesic).
The bottom line is that picking at your skin can lead to infection. When you have an urge, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and gently rub on moisturizer rather than relieving a temporary itch and making it worse.
Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Smoking can trigger flares. Talk to your doctor to help you decide the best way to quit. For some, nicotine patches make psoriasis worse.
Heavy drinking can also trigger symptoms (Kim Kardashian West has advocated that removing alcohol completely from her diet has helped nearly stop all psoriasis triggers for her). It can even be dangerous when combined with some psoriasis drugs. If you drink, keep it moderate -- that’s up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men.
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