The itchy, inflamed skin that comes with psoriasis is treatable. Making simple tweaks to your daily routine can promote healing and calm flare-ups.
1. Keep Your Skin Moist
It's one of the most effective yet easiest things you can do for irritated skin. It can help your skin heal and reduce dryness, itching, redness, soreness, and scaling.
Choose your moisturizer based on how dry your skin is. Ointments are thick, heavy, and good at locking in moisture. Lotions are thinner and get absorbed more easily. Or, you can pick a cream that falls somewhere in between. Remember, a product doesn’t have to be expensive to work well. Look for a fragrance free moisturizer.
After your bath or shower is a good time to gently pat on the lotion. Reapply throughout the day and when you change clothes. Use more on cold or dry days.
Another way to keep your skin moist is to use a humidifier in your home, especially when the air is hot and dry. If the heat is on, turn on the humidifier. It will help your skin retain moisture better.
2. Soothe With Warm Baths
A daily warm bath using a mild soap can help soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin.
Take 15 minutes to soak in the warm water. You might find comfort if you add oil, finely ground oatmeal, Epsom salt, or Dead Sea salt to your bath, but keep the water and soap mild. Hot temperatures and harsh soaps can be hard on skin that's already sensitive.
Try not to rub your skin with the towel as you dry off. Gently pat dry instead. The rubbing action can make sores worse and even cause new ones. Follow immediately with a moisturizer.
If you don't have time for a bath, you can still put a wet towel or cold compress on the trouble spot. Read more about skin care tips for psoriasis.
3. Heal With Sunlight
The ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight can slow the growth of skin cells, so small doses of sun can be a good way to soothe, improve, and even heal psoriasis lesions. Even indoor light can make a difference.
Talk to your doctor before adding UV therapy to your routine. And schedule regular skin checkups to be sure you’re not overdoing it.
4. Take It Easy
Studies show that stress can make psoriasis and itching worse. Some people even trace their first outbreak to a very stressful event. You might be able to calm symptoms simply by lowering your anxiety.
There are many ways to lower stress. Build a support system of family and friends. Think about what's most important to you and take time for it. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help. Even a long walk around the neighborhood might calm you.
Other ways to bust stress:
- Eat healthy.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
These will also help you fight off infections that may trigger flares. Find out how to get emotional support during psoriasis treatment.
5. Go Easy on Yourself
Avoid harsh products like lotions with alcohol, deodorant soaps, acids (glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid), and even some laundry soaps. These can inflame your sensitive skin. Feel the texture of the fabric of the clothes you buy. Make sure they are soft and comfortable. Avoid wool and mohair. They can irritate already inflamed skin.
6. Try Not to Scratch and Pick
There's no doubt about it: When you itch, you want to scratch. But scratching can tear open your skin, making way for infection-causing germs. It may also make sores appear where there weren't any before. Keep your nails short. and take an antihistamine if you are itchy.
And picking at your skin can lead to infection. When you have an urge, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and gently rub on moisturizer instead.
7. Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Smoking can trigger flares. Talk to your doctor to help you decide the best way to quit. For some, nicotine patches make psoriasis worse.
Heavy drinking can also trigger symptoms. It can even be dangerous when combined with some psoriasis drugs. If you drink, keep it moderate -- that’s up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men.