Psoriatic arthritis comes with the discomfort of two conditions. Between the burning and itching of psoriasis and the stiffness and swelling of arthritis, you know how tough some of your days can be.
But you can do some things at home to make those days a lot easier. Try these tips while you keep taking any medicine your doctor prescribed.
1. Find your happy place. Stress can trigger a psoriasis flare, particularly for women. Take charge of your tension to ease your symptoms and keep things from getting worse. You can meditate, listen to soothing music, go for a walk, practice yoga, or try tai chi. Find what works for you, and do it for at least 15 minutes every day.
2. Chill out. A cool shower or bath can soothe your skin, especially when you use some heavy-duty moisturizer afterward. If you take a bath, you can add oilated oatmeal, bath oil, Dead Sea salts, or Epsom salts for added comfort. After you get out, creams and ointments can lock in moisture and soothe your skin. So go ahead and slather it on. Store your lotion in the fridge for an extra dose of relief.
You can also put cold packs on your painful joints to ease pain and swelling. Wrap the cold pack in a light towel to protect your skin -- 10-15 minutes on, 10-15 minutes off.
3.Use it or lose it. Don’t let pain and stiffness keep you from moving. Exercise keeps your joints flexible and your muscles strong. It’ll also help you stay at a healthy weight. That’ll keep pressure off you and reduce inflammation. You can walk, bike, swim, do yoga -- anything you enjoy that doesn’t make your joint pain worse. Your doctor can help you find the amount and type of activity that is right for you.
4.Slough it off. Remove the scales and flakes from your skin to ease the burning and itching. This will make your lotions and anti-itch ointments work better. Over-the-counter lotions that have ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid, urea, or phenol can help soften and remove scales.
5.Warm it up. When you’re stiff, a bit of warmth can really help. Since hot baths and showers are bad for your skin, put the heat right where it’s needed. Use an electric heating pad, a microwaveable heat wrap, or an air-activated heat pack. You can even soothe stiff fingers and moisturize your hands at the same time: Apply oil to your hands, put on rubber gloves, and soak your hands in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.
6.Choose your device. Depending on which joints are involved, canes, crutches, braces, and shoe inserts can all help provide support, ease your pain, and help you get around. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you decide which is best for you. They can also teach you how to use it properly. Other devices, like jar openers and long-handled grabbers, can make your day-to-day life easier.
7.Eat to beat inflammation. A healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables can help ease your symptoms. And omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation. You can get them from fish like salmon, lake trout, herring, sardines, and tuna.
8.Pamper your hands and feet. Fingernails and toenails can become pitted and can separate from the nail bed. Make sure any nail changes you have are from your condition and not a fungal infection -- your doctor can diagnose and treat the true cause of the problem.
Keep your nails short so they don’t get caught on things, and don’t push back your cuticles. When getting a manicure or pedicure, soak for only a few minutes. Nail polish is usually safe, but don’t get acrylic nails. When they’re removed, your nail bed may be damaged.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wackerhausen / Getty Images
American Academy of Dermatology: “Psoriatic Arthritis: Signs and Symptoms.”
American College of Rheumatology: “Psoriatic Arthritis.”
Arthritis Foundation: “7 Hand- and Foot-Care Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis,” “25 Treatments for Arthritis Hip and Knee Pain,” “Psoriatic Arthritis Self-Care,” “Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms,” “Using Heat and Cold for Pain Relief.”
Mayo Clinic: “Psoriatic Arthritis: Lifestyle and Home Remedies.”
National Psoriasis Foundation: “About Psoriasis,” “Complementary and Alternative Therapies,” “Diet and Nutrition: Anti-Inflammatory,” “Life with Psoriasis,” “Managing Itch,” “Over the Counter Topicals.”