If you’re living with psoriasis, you already know how frustrating and challenging it can be to cope with the condition. The good news is that there are ways to make life with psoriasis easier.
Do talk to a dermatologist: Make an appointment with a dermatologist who specializes in treating psoriasis — he or she will be aware of the latest developments regarding treatment plan. Be prepared to discuss the details of your condition with your doctor, including when you first noticed your psoriasis, what your symptoms are, any situations that seem to make your symptoms worse, and what treatments have and have not worked for you in the past.
Do moisturize: Dry skin is more susceptible to outbreaks of psoriasis, so keep your skin well lubricated. After bathing or showering, seal in moisture by applying a generous amount of moisturizing cream or oil to your skin. Vaseline, Cetaphil cream, and Eucerin cream are a few commonly available moisturizers reported to provide good results. Avoid lightweight lotions, which do not contain enough emollients. If over-the-counter products don’t help, your doctor may prescribe a moisturizing cream that contains medication. Be especially diligent about moisturizing during the winter months, when cold outdoor weather and overheated buildings are a particularly drying combination.
Do take a soak: Soaking in a warm (not hot) bath for 15 minutes can help loosen scales and reduce the itching and inflammation caused by psoriasis. Adding sea salt, oatmeal, bath oil, or a bath gel containing coal tar to the water can further soothe and moisturize your skin. If you live or vacation in an area with mineral or salt baths, take a dip. Both are associated with relieving psoriasis.Do get some sun: For reasons experts still don’t fully understand, psoriasis lesions often diminish when exposed to ultraviolet light. So while sunbathing is discouraged for most people because of the risk of skin cancer, it can be helpful for those with psoriasis. The trick is to make sure that only the areas affected by psoriasis are exposed. Cover unaffected skin with clothing or a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Limit sun exposure to 15 minutes, and be careful to avoid sunburn, which will only make matters worse. It may take several weeks to see an improvement. Your doctor may also recommend ultraviolet light therapy, either in the doctor’s office or at home. Avoid tanning beds, which do not produce the same healing effect and may actually be harmful.
Do reach out: Having psoriasis isn’t just physically tough; it can be difficult emotionally as well. Feelings of depression, frustration, and isolation are common. Body image issues related to the unattractive appearance of psoriasis lesions are normal. While it may feel as if you’re the only person struggling with this condition, in fact more than 125 million people are affected worldwide. Discuss your feelings about the disease with your family and friends and your doctor. Message boards and online chats for those with psoriasis can also provide support and help you remember that you’re not alone. Psoriasis organizations, such as the National Psoriasis Foundation, can connect you with others who are living with psoriasis, as well as keep you informed about research developments and opportunities to get involved in fund-raising walks and other events.
Don’t overdo it: The best way to handle your psoriasis is to do so gently. Avoid the temptation to scrub lesions, which will only irritate them, making them worse. Bathing in very hot water or using abrasive cleaners can also make your psoriasisflare up.
Don’t stress out: Some people with psoriasis say their condition worsens when they are under stress. Avoid stressful situations when you can, and take extra steps to take care of yourself — such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep — when you can’t avoid stress. Hypnosis, relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, and other stress management techniques may also help.
Don’t ignore flare-ups: Psoriasis is a lifelong condition, and one that tends to wax and wane over time. But that doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. If your psoriasis returns after a period of being under control, schedule a visit with your doctor to find out why, and to decide what can be done to treat it.
Don’t give up: One of the most frustrating things about treating psoriasis is that something that works well for one person may not work at all for another. It may take some time to find the right combination of therapies that work best for you. Be patient and don’t give up. It’s important to be consistent with your treatment plan, day in and day out, even when your symptoms aren’t so bad. With psoriasis, slow and steady wins the race.