7 Tips That May Improve Your Psoriasis Symptoms While on Treatment
Dealing with psoriasis goes beyond managing chronic sore and itchy skin patches; the impact it has on your relationships, self-esteem, and quality of life can take a much greater toll. The bright side is that you can live a full and active life if you adopt a healthy lifestyle and follow the right skin care routine. Discover seven things you can do to improve psoriasis symptoms while on treatment.
1. Resist scratching your psoriasis skin.
The itching, burning, and painful sensation from psoriasis might tempt you to scratch for that temporary relief. However, scratching the itchy patches can cause sores and cuts, which can damage your skin and might set off new lesions (known as the Koebner phenomenon)1.
Tip: Your skin needs more protection if you have psoriasis. Keep your skin moist with topical moisturisers or ointments. Use sun protection to prevent sunburns. Cover your arms or legs to reduce trauma to the skin, such as scrapes, insect bites, bruises, and other accidental bumps.
2. Use skin products that are gentle and suitable for sensitive skin.
When you have psoriasis, your skin is more sensitive and you have to approach almost any form of skin contact with vigilance, from soaps to showers. Most personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, perfumes, deodorants, and moisturisers contain chemicals that may further irritate your skin.
Tip: Be gentle to your skin and avoid products that contain alcohol, fragrance, and preservatives. Opt for moisturising products or salicylic acid-infused products (great for loosening and removing psoriasis scales)2. Limit your showers to 5 minutes3 and baths to 15 minutes before it causes dryness and irritation to your skin4. Gently pat yourself dry instead of 4 wiping to prevent traumatising or over drying your skin. Moisturise your skin right away for better skin absorption.
3. Fight psoriasis from the inside out by making changes to your diet.
It’s important to maintain healthy eating habits if you have psoriasis. Apart from improving your skin conditions, a balanced diet is also beneficial to your health and can help control weight gain. Thus, you can lower the risks of psoriasis comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity5.
Tip: Cut back on foods containing high fat content6, saturated fats, and pre-packaged 6 convenience foods7, such as fast food, fried foods, and junk food. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and consider supplementing your diet with probiotics and fish oil8,9.
4. Embrace a smoke-free lifestyle and learn how you can kick the habit for good.
Smoking is a terrible idea if you have psoriasis. It dries out your skin and increases psoriasis flare-ups10. Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage your skin’s collagen and elastin (fibres that strengthen your skin and elasticity)11. More importantly, smoking affects your body’s ability to absorb vital vitamins and minerals that have skin healing abilities, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, calcium, and carotenoids12,13. Both men and women who smoke more than a standard pack of cigarettes (containing 20 cigarettes) a day are at a higher risk of developing psoriasis than nonsmokers14.
Tip: It’s not easy to stop smoking, but it’s never too late to try. If you don’t smoke, don’t start; if you smoke, stop now. Your body will thank you when it can function optimally. Pick up healthy ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Try finding a new hobby, exercising, going for walks, or taking a few minutes to meditate.
5. While you’re at it, give up alcohol to alleviate skin conditions caused by psoriasis.
Drinking may be an occasional activity that helps you relax after a long day, lets you socialise with your friends, or something that you generally enjoy. However, excessive drinking was shown to lower treatment response in some patients15. What’s more, frequent drinking might trigger your psoriasis to flare up16.
It is dangerous to mix alcohol with certain psoriasis medications. For example, if psoriasis patients with hepatitis or fatty liver disease mix alcohol with methotrexate, it may worsen their existing condition17.
6. Don’t underestimate the benefits of relaxation and clear communication when you are suffering from psoriasis.
Living with psoriasis may cause you to feel alone or stressed out. However, remember that stress has a negative impact on your immune system18. When it is compromised, the accompanying inflammation may exacerbate psoriasis symptoms. In short, stress causes flare-ups19.
Tip: It’s impossible to eliminate stress completely, but you can minimise it. Try getting enough sleep, avoiding caffeine and stimulants, or practicing some relaxation techniques. A few things you can try at home are breathing exercises, mindful meditations, and soothing baths.
Also, let your close friends and family know about your skin condition and how it affects you. They are valuable components of a support system that can lend an ear or a hand to help you deal with psoriasis. Be clear about things you can and cannot do, but shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life to cultivate a healthy and productive mindset.
7. Start a journal to keep a record of your condition.
Keeping a diary to monitor psoriasis flare-ups helps you to stay mindful of specific circumstances that are potential triggers. That way you can gain better control over your condition and it is a step toward empowerment.
Tip: Manage your condition better by keeping track of your stress levels, diet, exercise, medications, and sleeping patterns. Write down your thoughts and feelings to gain a better understanding of how it affects you, especially if you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety.
Seek medical help for your psoriasis treatment.
The best way to manage psoriasis is to seek professional help from a doctor or dermatologist. Although there’s no permanent cure for it currently20, there is a plethora of treatment options in Malaysia. Topical steroids, phototherapy (light therapy), systemic treatments and biologics (advanced treatment) are examples of some of the psoriasis treatments available.
Finding the right treatment helps you control and improve psoriasis symptoms. Talk to your dermatologist to find one that is most suitable for you. Also, let your dermatologist know how psoriasis affects you emotionally and psychologically so that he/she can decide the most effective treatment for you.
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If you like this, see also: These 4 Warning Signs Mean You Need to Change Your Psoriasis Medication