Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 07, 2022
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Myth: Stress Causes It

Stress doesn’t give you psoriasis, but it can trigger a flare. Your body’s immune response to stress is the same one that sets off psoriasis symptoms. And some studies say stress may even keep your medications from working as quickly as they should. Meditation, regular exercise, and other relaxation techniques may help keep your cool.

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Fact: Talking Is Treatment

Having psoriasis can take a toll on your mental health. You may be tempted to withdraw from the social scene because of it. But talking about it with others -- especially those who also deal with the condition -- helps you feel less alone and provides support, even if that support is online.

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Myth: Hot Water Heals

While there’s nothing like a warm bath or shower to ease tension, dial back your water temps to deal with plaque problems. Skin dries out in hot water, which can up your itch factor. Try cool water, ice packs, and refrigerated lotions to help your skin chill out.

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Fact: Vinegar Soothes Scalps

It’s true: Apple cider vinegar can ease an itchy scalp. Splash it on right out of the bottle or mix it in a 1:1 ratio with water. Rinse completely afterward. Skip this home remedy if your scalp is cracked or bleeding. It could burn and irritate your skin.

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Myth: Diet Makes No Difference

Got a sweet tooth? Too much refined sugar ramps up inflammation in your body and can cause or worsen a flare. Same goes for fatty red meats, processed foods, and dairy. The omega-3 in fish oil, on the other hand, helps ease inflammation and calm psoriasis symptoms.

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Fact: Heart Disease Risk Goes Up

Your chances of having a stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, or an irregular heartbeat double when you have psoriasis. Make sure your weight stays in a healthy range to help offset these risks.

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Myth: Avoid the Sun at All Costs

Actually, some sun is OK. It may even help your plaques heal. Talk to your doctor before sunning yourself so you know how much time out of the shade is safe.

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Fact: You Should Avoid Alcohol

Heavy drinking, especially if you’re a man, may keep your psoriasis treatment from working the way it should. Some psoriasis medications, such as methotrexate and acitretin, have dangerous side effects for women when mixed with alcohol.

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Myth: Exercise Makes It Worse

The opposite is true. Studies show intense physical activity reduces outbreaks. It’s good for your heart and mood, too.

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Fact: Baths Can Be a Balm

As long as the water isn’t too hot and your soap is mild, a bath can be a big help for itchy, scaly skin. Add magnesium salts, bath oils, or colloidal oatmeal to ease your itch, and lock in moisture with a thick cream afterward.

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Myth: It Affects Fertility

Women with psoriasis can have a healthy, normal pregnancy. You may find your symptoms get better during pregnancy, or they may get worse. It’s different for every woman. If you’re thinking of getting pregnant, check with your doctor about your treatments to make sure they’re safe for the baby.

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Fact: Herbs and Spices Can Help

Some plant-based or natural ingredients work well enough that you can find them in ointments. Capsaicin, the spicy part of chili peppers, helps lower pain. Turmeric can work as an anti-inflammatory. Your doctor can prescribe a cream containing an herb called mahonia aquifolium as a treatment, too.

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SOURCES:

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Anti-inflammatory Diet,” “Herbal and Natural Remedies,” “How Cigarettes and Alcohol Affect Psoriasis,” “Managing Itch,” “Over the counter (OTC) Topicals,” “Stress and Psoriatic Disease.”

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance: “Psoriasis and the Sun,” “Psychological Aspects of Psoriasis,” “Self-help.”

Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis.”

Medicine (Baltimore): “Association between physical activity and risk of prevalent psoriasis.”

NHS: “Living with Psoriasis.”