As Cool Winds Blow, Psoriasis Flares
When the fall season approaches, this skin disorder can worsen. Here's how to cope.
Stressful Seasons for Psoriasis continued...
But doctors say you can head off the effects of stress by engaging in some form of relaxation beginning at the start of the fall season. The Baylor research notes that several studies found hypnosis and biofeedback are effective stress reducers in some people with psoriasis.
And in at least one study published in a Swedish dermatology journal, doctors from McGill University in Quebec found that both meditation and guided imagery were effective relaxation methods in reducing psoriasis symptoms. Lebwohl reports that in another study, patients undergoing UV light therapy who practiced guided imagery -- imagining their psoriasis being healed -- experienced a quicker remission than those undergoing UV therapy alone.
Indeed, Moore tells WebMD that anything that helps you relax -- including meditative yoga, vigorous exercise, acupuncture, or even just taking time out of your day to listen to a favorite CD or drift away with a great novel -- can help keep your psoriasis under control, particularly during a stressful season. Remember that these techniques work best with traditional medical therapy instead of alone.
Eat, Drink, Be Merry -- but Don't Overdo
When it comes to diet and psoriasis, most speculation has surrounded foods high in essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3s -- abundant in fish, flaxseed, and some vegetables. But while some studies have found these foods helpful for a number of inflammatory immune disorders, at least some doctors are convinced that help doesn't extend to psoriasis.
"I don't buy it," says Strober, who says there is no convincing evidence that any foods play a role in either helping or harming psoriasis.
Lebwohl agrees: "There were some preliminary data in open trials suggesting eating more fish might be effective ... but in the end it was found not to help at all," he says.
Moore is a bit more flexible. He tells WebMD that "overall, omega-3s are good for the skin, particularly dry skin, and when skin is in better condition, you're going to have easier time controlling psoriasis, so in this respect these foods might make some difference."
What everyone seems to agree can help, however, is skipping that wine cocktail with your dinner, as well as any other type of alcoholic beverage. "There's a group of patients who notice, a day or two after drinking alcohol in significant amounts, or even a couple of beers for that matter, that their psoriasis worsens," says Strober. If you're one of those people, experts say don't drink, especially in fall and winter.