There are steps you can take to control conditions like psoriasis — an itchy and painful autoimmune skin condition. You can do some of them on your own, while others require medical supervision.
You can rely on the expertise of board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist Yvonne Hines, MD, at Hines Dermatology Associates to help you manage your psoriasis and minimize its impact on your life.
If you’re having frequent flares, or flares that are difficult to control, discuss your symptoms with Dr. Hines. She can perform a comprehensive evaluation and develop a treatment strategy to get your psoriasis under control.
Here are some things you can do to manage psoriasis flares and feel more in control of your condition.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition in which the immune system is overly active, causing skin cells to grow excessively. The skin develops scaly, irritated patches, most commonly on the scalp, elbows, or knees, but it can affect other regions of the body as well.
Psoriasis symptoms tend to go through cycles, with flare-ups lasting a few weeks or months and then subsiding or going into remission. Treatments vary, depending on the kind of psoriasis and its severity.
The majority of psoriasis cases are mild or moderate, and lotions or ointments — combined with some know-how and a good treatment plan — are often enough to calm your skin down. Managing frequent triggers, such as stress and skin injuries, can improve your symptoms.
Common psoriasis triggers
Here are some of the things that most commonly trigger psoriasis flares.
- Stress: Psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered by an increase in stress or by persistent, chronic stress.
- Cold, dry weather: Psoriasis symptoms may intensify as the temperature decreases and the air becomes drier.
- Skin trauma: Trauma to the skin can trigger psoriasis symptoms; examples include cuts, scrapes, bug bites, and sunburns.
- Medications: If you're taking any medications, talk to Dr. Hines to find out if they're making your psoriasis worse. Beta-blockers and lithium are just two examples of medications that can cause your psoriasis to flare up.
- Smoking: Smoking is known to increase psoriasis flares.
- Infections: Some infections, such as streptococcal infection and HIV, increase the risk of psoriasis flare-ups.
- Alcohol: Alcohol use has also been connected to psoriasis symptoms worsening.
You may have triggers that aren’t listed here. It’s helpful to keep a journal to record what makes your case of psoriasis worse or better.
Tips for managing psoriasis
The following are some steps you can take to manage your psoriasis.
Keep your skin hydrated
When your skin is dry, you're more likely to experience flare-ups. Instead of lotions, try to use hydrating creams. Using a moisturizing cream on a regular basis helps to keep the skin hydrated.
Stress is a major psoriasis trigger for many people. Take steps to minimize stress in your personal or professional life by engaging in stress-busting activities like meditation, yoga, or exercise.
Alcohol not only aggravates psoriasis symptoms, but it may also reduce the effectiveness of psoriasis treatments.
Minimize sun exposure
While a small amount of natural sunshine each day can help to prevent flare-ups, too much can aggravate symptoms.
Protect your skin from trauma
Taking care to protect your skin from injury can help to prevent psoriasis flares. Even irritation from shaving can trigger a psoriasis flare.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and a nutritious diet can have a positive impact on your immune system, and in turn, help to manage psoriasis.
Dealing with psoriasis can be frustrating, but having a clear action plan helps you get it under control.
If you’re struggling with psoriasis, contact our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office at 508-222-1976 or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hines. New and existing patients can also send a message to Dr. Hines and the team here on our website.