Healthy living with psoriasis
You can live a healthy life with your psoriasis. To make it happen, you'll need to focus in on a few key healthy living principles:
- eating healthy
- staying physically active to help you feel better and healthier
- finding a support network to help you deal with the impact of psoriasis
You may also need to pay more attention to caring for your skin and nails.
Skin care tips to help you manage psoriasis:
- Keep your skin moisturized. Moisturizing will help prevent dry skin and itching. Use a moisturizer or emollient after showering or bathing to help seal the water into your skin.
- Keep the air in your home and office moist by using a humidifier, especially in the winter when dry heat can worsen psoriasis.
- Avoid scratching the skin and picking at lesions.
- Try a warm oatmeal bath to help relieve itching.
- Use warm, not hot, water when showering or bathing. Dermatologists recommend short, warm showers with fragrance-free cleansers. Do not rub the skin dry; gently pat instead.
- Wear cotton clothing, which is less irritating to the skin compared to other fabrics.
- Try swimming (in saltwater, if possible), which is good exercise and helps psoriasis by removing dead skin.
Nail care tips to help you manage psoriasis:
- Cut nails straight across to prevent ingrown nails. Before cutting nails, soak them for 10 to 20 minutes in warm water.
- Keep nails as short as possible.
- Use manicure scissors to trim up to the point where the nail is firmly attached to the nail bed.
- Avoid vigorous rubbing and scraping when cleaning the nails.
- Wear gloves if you need to work with your hands.
- To help prevent the friction that causes toenails to thicken, wear comfortable, roomy shoes.
Avoiding your psoriasis triggers
Psoriasis triggers are things or situations that cause symptoms to occur or that worsen existing symptoms (called a flare-up). Sometimes, triggers can even lead to the development of psoriasis and the first occurrence.
Psoriasis triggers include skin injury such as sunburn, respiratory infection, stress, cold weather, certain medications, alcohol, and smoking.
Knowing your psoriasis triggers is important in managing your psoriasis. Once you know your triggers, you can find ways to avoid the triggers or reduce your exposure to them.
Here are some tips to help you avoid psoriasis triggers:
- Avoid sunburns. Since sunburn can trigger a psoriasis flare-up, make sure you generously apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 before going outside. Avoid scented sunscreens because these can irritate the skin.
- Reduce the risk of skin injury such as insect bites, nicks, and cuts:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when doing outdoor activities (e.g., gardening, hiking) to avoid being scraped by trees and bushes.
- Prevent bug bites: apply an insect repellent with a low percentage of DEET, stay indoors at dusk, and use citronella candles if you are outdoors.
- Don't pick at insect bites or scabs.
- If you do get a skin injury, treat it as soon as possible.
- See your doctor to treat infections as soon as possible.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether any medications you are taking can trigger psoriasis and, if so, whether it is possible to switch medications.
- Find ways to cope with stress:
- join a support group
- try relaxation techniques such as meditation
- Keep your skin hydrated in cold weather. Moisturize frequently and use a humidifier
- Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke, and limit your alcohol intake.