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4 Tips for soothing your psoriasis

Nearly 7.5 million Americans suffer with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that often causes severe itching and painful red welts on their knees, elbows, lower back, and other parts of the body. While psoriasis is a life-long condition, there are steps you can take to help alleviate its appearance and the symptoms that come with it.
 

1. Stay moisturized  
Moisturizing affected areas of your skin can alleviate itchiness, redness, and reduce the appearance of scales. Your dermatologist can guide you about use of a medicated cream, but some people find success with non-prescription over-the-counter products, either used alone or in combination with medicated creams.[1]

Use a fragrance-free cream and apply it regularly. It’s recommended that you do it once when you get out of the bath or shower, and then as necessary throughout the day. Make sure to apply gently so that you don’t aggravate or scratch the affected area.
 
Experiment with creams, ointments, and lotions to see which works best for your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an ointment or oil as opposed to a lighter lotion.[2] Your skin changes seasonally, so you’ll need to change up your moisturizing routine accordingly. For example, you’ll need to apply more lotion on cold or dry days.

2. Catch the rays (sensibly)  
Sunlight isn’t only a mood-booster,[3] it’s also great for alleviating some of the symptoms of psoriasis. Sunlight is a free and natural source of Vitamin D, which can help improve psoriasis.[4]
 
Of course, it’s important to avoid sunburn, so limit your direct exposure to sunlight and apply sunscreen to your skin that is unaffected by psoriasis. You should try to get 30 minutes of exposure a day to see improvements.[5] If the sunlight is particularly strong, start with just 10 minutes a day and gradually build up to 30 minutes to avoid getting burned.[6]

Be aware that some ingredients in topical medications (such as tazarotene, coal tar, Elidel and Protopic)  can increase the risk of sunburn.[7] If you’re using a medicated lotion, speak to your primary care provider or dermatologist before heading out in the sun.

3 De-stress  
Stress can trigger and worsen psoriasis outbreaks, and in return, psoriasis outbreaks can worsen stress.[8] But there are many things you can do to decrease the effects of both.
 
  • Mindfulness meditation 
A growing number of studies support the stress-reducing effects of mindfulness meditation.[9] It helps you disconnect from negative thoughts and feelings. Meditating just 15 minutes a day can improve your mood and wellbeing. Plenty of free, guided meditations online and apps can help you get started.
 
  • Movement and exercise
Movement and exercise produce endorphins, which help improve your quality of sleep. You don’t have to go overboard – yoga and Tai Chi are both great examples of low-impact movement exercises that can help you destress and improve your psoriasis condition.[10]

Daily walks are another great exercise. They allow you to get moving and get some sunshine at the same time. 

 
  • Sleep
Sleep is vital when it comes to managing stress. Make sure to prioritize sleep and establish healthy bedtime habits. Switch to decaf and avoid alcohol in the afternoon and turn off electronics at least half an hour before you are ready to go to sleep.
 

4. Avoid irritating the affected areas of your skin  
Scratching can cause open sores and infections, as well as worsen the appearance of your psoriasis. When you feel an itch coming on, you can gently applying moisturizer to soothe the area, and cold showers and cold compresses can also help to immediately relieve the itch.[11] You can also try some over-the-counter treatments such as calamine lotion, camphor, diphenhydramine hydrochloride (HCl), benzocaine, or menthol.[12] Identifying the right treatment might be challenging, but finding something that works for you to distract you from scratching is key to improving your psoriasis condition.

We hope that you try these tips and find that one or some of them bring you relief. Remember to talk to your primary care provider or dermatologist to talk through options for treating and managing psoriasis. If you’re based in the Bronx, you can book an appointment or telemedicine consultation with BronxDocs to discuss your options.
 
 

Citations

1American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “What psoriasis treatments are available without a prescription?” Retrieved from: “https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/treatment/medications/non-prescription (Aug. 2020)

2AAD, “What psoriasis treatments are available without a prescription?”

3 Penckofer, Sue et al. “Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?.” Issues in mental health nursing vol. 31,6 (2010): 385-93. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/ (Aug. 2020)
4  Gisondi, P et al.  “Vitamin D status in patients with chronic plaque psoriasis.” British Journal of Dermatology Vol. 166, 3 (2011): 505-510. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10699.x (Aug. 2020)
5Loyola University Health System. “Summer sun good for psoriasis sufferers says Gottlieb dermatologist.” Science News. (2013) Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806165930.htm (Aug. 2020)
6Roth, E. “Sun and Psoriasis: Benefits and Risks.” Healthline. Retrieved from:   https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/benefits-and-risks-of-sunlight (Aug, 2020)
9 American Psychological Association. “Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress.” (2019) Retrieved from:
https://www.apa.org/topics/mindfulness-meditation#:~:text=Researchers%20reviewed%20more%20than%20200,%2C%20pain%2C%20smoking%20and%20addiction
10 National Psoriasis Foundation. “Treating psoriasis: complementary and alternative.” Retrieved from: https://www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/yoga-and-tai-chi (Aug. 2020)
11 AAD. “Psoriasis skin care: itch relief” Retrieved from: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/skin-care/itch-relief (Aug. 2020)
12 National Psoriasis Foundation. “Managing Itch.” Retrieved from: https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/managing-itch (Aug. 2020)
Posted: 9/17/2020 1:41:54 PM by John Lynch


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