When you have psoriasis, the most important thing is to follow your doctor’s advice. Still, you can do a lot on your own to help control and prevent flare-ups.

1. Use Moisturizing Creams

Symptoms get worse when your skin is dry, so keep it moist with creams and ointments. Thick and oily ones, like petroleum jelly, are usually best. They're better at trapping moisture beneath the skin. To help remove scales, apply cream on top of them, then cover the area with plastic wrap or another waterproof material. Leave it on for a few hours, then remove it. Learn more about lotions and other topical treatments for psoriasis.

2. Take Care of Your Skin

Be careful with your skin. Never pick at patches or scales, as you may make your psoriasis worse. Use caution when trimming your nails. If you cut yourself, it might make symptoms flare. Limit your baths and showers to 10 minutes at a time. Avoid very hot water.

3. Avoid Dry, Cold Weather

Climate can have a big effect on psoriasis. For many people, cold, dry weather makes symptoms worse. Hot weather usually makes them better, but not always. Read more on how to manage psoriasis during fall and winter.

4. Use a Humidifier

It's important to keep your skin moist. Turn on the humidifier when the air inside your house is dry. Learn about the different types of humidifiers and how to use them.

5. Avoid Medications That Cause Flare-Ups

Let your doctor know about all the medications you take, even over-the-counter ones. Ask if they could affect your psoriasis. Drugs that are known to make things worse include:

  • Lithium, used to treat psychiatric disorders
  • Propranolol and possibly other beta-blockers, which are prescribed for heart conditions
  • Quinidine, medication for an irregular heartbeat

If you're using any of these medications, ask your doctor about substitutes. Know about these and other drugs that can trigger psoriasis flares.

6. Avoid Scrapes, Cuts, Bumps, and Infections

It's extra important for people with psoriasis to avoid bumps and cuts. Trauma to your skin can cause a flare, a condition called Koebner's phenomenon. Infections can also cause problems. Be especially careful when shaving. Avoid acupuncture and tattoos, and do your best to prevent insect bites and chafing. Get more information on Koebner's phenomenon and psoriasis.

7. Get Some Sun, But Not Too Much

The ultraviolet rays in sunlight slow the growth of skin cells, so getting moderate doses of sun is good. But make it brief – about 20 minutes or so at a time. And use sunscreen. Sunburn can trigger psoriasis, and it raises your risk of skin cancer. Some medications can make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet rays, so talk to your doctor first. Read more on the risks and benefits of sunlight for psoriasis.

8. Zap Stress

Although it hasn't been proven, many people link flare-ups to stress. So, try to relieve your anxiety. That may be easier said than done, but you can try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, for starters. Find out how to manage the emotional impact of psoriasis.

9. Watch How Much Alcohol You Drink

The connection between alcohol and psoriasis isn't clear, but some think it can worsen symptoms, especially in men. Alcohol can be dangerous if you're using certain psoriasis drugs, so check with your doctor.

10. Exercise, Eat Right, and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Although no studies have shown a link between diet and psoriasis, experts recommend that people with the condition eat a well-balanced diet that's high in fruits and vegetables. Some people say their symptoms improve when they remove dairy or gluten. Exercise may also help. Some studies show excess weight can trigger flares, so stay at a healthy weight.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, associate director of dermatopharmacology, Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine; co-director, Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center; consultant for Amgen, Biogen, Genentech, Fujisawa, and 3M.

Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD, director, Clinical Research Center, St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City; associate clinical professor of dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; consultant for Amgen and Genentech.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "What Is Psoriasis?"

American Academy of Dermatology: "Psoriasis," “Are Triggers Causing Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups?”

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Psoriasis," "How Cigarettes and Alcohol Affect Psoriasis," "Weight loss greatly improved psoriasis."

Abel, E. Dermatology III: Psoriasis, ACP Medicine, April 2005.

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