These no-nonsense tips from dermatologists can help people living
with psoriasis ease their discomfort and maximize the effectiveness
basics of good health. Eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty
of water, and getting enough sleep are all steps patients can take
to avoid feeling tired and overstressed.
triggers. Research shows there are known triggers for psoriasis
— certain infections, some medications, skin injury, stress, and
winter weather. Smoking also may trigger psoriasis. While it is not
always possible to avoid every trigger, knowing what triggers
psoriasis can help you make informed decisions. To learn more, see
Keep track of
flares. This can be an especially helpful technique for managing
psoriasis. When a flare-up strikes, write down when it occurred and
include information about what was happening at the time that may
have triggered the psoriasis. Was there a stressful event in your
life? Did spending a summer evening outdoors result in numerous
mosquito bites? Keep in mind that psoriasis may not flare for 10 to
14 days after the skin is injured. This information can reveal facts
about how psoriasis affects you and offer insight to help you and
your dermatologist better manage the condition.
If you have psoriasis or a family history of psoriasis, don’t start
smoking. If you do smoke, here’s another good reason to quit.
Research continues to suggest that smoking may trigger psoriasis. It
appears that localized pustular psoriasis, which occurs on the palms
and soles, can be aggravated by smoking and that in some cases,
quitting smoking clears the skin. Research also suggests that severe
psoriasis may be linked to smoking.
If you are trying to quit, do not use a nicotine patch before
consulting a dermatologist. Nicotine patches can aggravate
consumption. Research indicates that heavy drinking may trigger
psoriasis and even prevent treatment from being effective. Studies
also are finding that there may be a link between severe psoriasis
and heavy drinking. Dermatologists recommend that their patients who
drink should do so in moderation. However, people taking
methotrexate, a medication used to treat moderate to severe
psoriasis, should not drink alcohol. Mixing methotrexate and alcohol
can have serious side effects.
Many people with psoriasis say they experience flare-ups during
stressful times. While stress cannot be prevented, there are a
number of healthy ways to reduce stress. Some people find that
joining a psoriasis support group helps. Others find comfort in
psychological counseling. Exercise and a number of relaxation
techniques also can effectively reduce stress.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, stress reduction
works best when combined with medical treatment.
Take good care
of your skin:
and moisturizers. Emollients soften the skin. Moisturizers lock
in the skin’s own moisture to prevent dryness and cracking. One of
the best ways to lock in moisture is to apply moisturizer after
bathing. Regular use of moisturizers can help prevent the itch and
pain of dry skin and reduce scaling and inflammation. People often
get good results by applying a lotion during the day and a cream or
ointment, which are thicker than lotion, at night.
scratching. There is no doubt about it, psoriasis itches. In
fact, the word “psoriasis” derives from the Greek word for itch, “psora”
The thought of not scratching can seem maddening. However,
scratching can puncture the skin, allowing bacteria to enter and
cause an infection. Scratching also causes the skin to bleed and
worsens psoriasis. After scratching, lesions can appear on
previously clear skin. To alleviate the itch, dermatologists
psoriasis. Dermatologists say that one of the most effective
ways to stop the itch is to treat the psoriasis. When the psoriasis
clears, the itch usually disappears. In the interim, these can curb
Apply a cold
compress. Applying a cold compress can reduce inflammation and
lessen the desire to scratch.
menthol-based ointment or topical steroid. These can help manage
the itch until the psoriasis clears.
Moisturizing, especially after bathing, can help relieve the dry
skin that causes itching.
Soak in a warm
oatmeal bath. This relieves itching for some people. A
dermatologist can recommend an appropriate oatmeal-bath preparation.
Once lesions clear,
it is important to continue using emollients and moisturizers.
Regular use can help soften skin and prevent the dryness that causes
the skin to itch.
Never pick at
lesions. Like scratching, picking at lesions can cause bleeding,
infection, and a worsening of the psoriasis. Dermatologists
recommend treatment to clear the psoriasis and regular use of
emollients and moisturizers to help soften skin and prevent dryness.
Pat your skin
dry; rubbing can irritate it. Rubbing, or irritating the skin in
any way, can cause psoriasis lesions to form. Developing a habit of
gently patting your skin dry can alleviate this problem.
While sunlight can help treat psoriasis, many treatments make the
skin sun-sensitive. Anyone using a topical or systemic retinoid or
PUVA therapy must protect their skin from the sun. Patients using
retinoids should apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going
outdoors and wear protective clothing. Additionally, sun exposure
can cause sunburn, which can trigger psoriasis.
clothing next to your skin. Cotton is less likely than other
fabrics to irritate the skin or cause overheating.
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
For an overview, visit
the AAD pamphlet
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.