Skin and Joint Care for Psoriatic Arthritis
Creating Your Psoriatic Arthritis Health Care Team
It's important that you have a health care team that meets your needs with psoriatic arthritis. This team may include:
- A rheumatologist for your joints
- A dermatologist for your skin
- A primary care doctor to look after your overall health
- A social worker or therapist to help you cope with emotional and social challenges
Be sure to ask others who have psoriatic arthritis for doctor referrals. You can also search the National Psoriasis Foundation web site for specialists in your area. When interviewing potential health care providers, be sure to ask:
- How many psoriasis patients do you typically treat each month?
- How do you gauge my quality of life with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis?
- What are the latest treatment options for skin and joint care?
Psoriatic Arthritis Self-Care for Skin
Though medications can go a long way, you may supplement your medical treatments with at-home care. Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, recommends the following psoriasis self-care tips for your skin:
Moisturize. "Dry, cracked skin is easily injured and it can cause the psoriasis to pop up," Feldman says. Take short, warm baths and showers, rather than long or hot ones. And moisturize your skin after every wash. Use a cream or moisturizer that you like, one you will not mind putting on daily.
Use gentle soap. Be wary of liquid soaps. "They're not really soap. They're detergent and much harsher than bar products," says Feldman.
Go to the light. Measured exposure to ultraviolet light in small doses can help clear up psoriasis. Light therapy, or phototherapy, is usually provided in a doctor's office, or at home with special equipment. Whether you're using phototherapy or not, be sure to avoid getting sunburned, as this can sometimes trigger the growth of psoriasis plaques.
Don't scratch. Feldman knows this is easier said than done: "As a doctor, I want to clear up the itching so my patients don't feel the urge to scratch."