If you have psoriasis, you probably know what it’s like to live with a constant urge to scratch. As many as 9 out of 10 people with this autoimmune condition get an itchy or burning feeling on their skin. That may happen even when you avoid triggers such as alcohol, smoking, and cold, dry air that can set off flares.
But sometimes, you need relief fast. Here are some home remedies to ease your symptoms without scratching, which can damage your skin and worsen your symptoms.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Did we say moisturize? It’s the first rule of psoriasis skin care. Extra hydration may help relieve the dryness and itching. It can even help your skin heal itself. Heavier ointments are more moisturizing than lighter lotions. Apply to damp skin right after a shower or bath to lock in moisture. When your skin starts to itch and prickle, reach for your skin cream.
Treat Your Scales and Flakes
The buildup on your skin can prevent anti-itch medicated cream from penetrating deeply. So keep your scales and flakes in check. Products with salicylic acid soften the scales. Resist picking at or pulling the sloughed off skin. That could worsen your psoriasis. Instead, brush off the softened scales gently while moisturizing.
Bathe Every Day
Not just a regular old bath. Add colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts, or Dead Sea salts to your tub. These products may help soothe your irritated skin and soften scales. Stick with lukewarm water and a mild soap. Hot water can make your skin feel itchier. Soak for no more than 10 minutes. Any longer and the water can dry out your skin. And don’t forget to moisturize afterward!
Hot water and heating pads may amp up your urge to scratch. But a cool compress will provide itch relief for psoriasis. The cold short-circuits the nerves that send signals to your brain to say your skin is itchy.
This traditional practice is used in Asian medicine. Practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, usually with thin needles inserted into the skin. Studies have found that acupuncture may help treat psoriasis symptoms and make you more comfortable.
Stress is a known trigger for a psoriasis flare. If you can keep your stress in check, you may be able to keep curb the itch, too. Meditation and other mindfulness-based therapies like yoga can help calm and relax you -- and even may ease your psoriasis symptoms.
Use Aloe Vera
You may think of it only as an after-sun balm. But aloe vera can also relieve the itchy, burning sensation of psoriasis. Look for aloe extract cream. Apply several times a day for at least a month. Aloe is even more calming when it’s been cooled in the refrigerator. But skip aloe tablets. High doses of aloe can be dangerous if you take it by mouth.