Medical treatment is an important part of managing psoriasis, and self-care can be a healthy accompaniment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is the ability to improve and maintain health, prevent disease, and manage illness and disability with or without a healthcare provider.
Self-care goes beyond beauty routines and focuses on being an advocate to improve health. Self-care is different for each person but can include the following:
- Healthy diet
- Practice relaxation techniques
This article will discuss the benefits of practicing self-care and ideas on how to practice self-care when managing psoriasis.
Benefits of Practicing Self-Care If You Have Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition that goes through periods of remission and flares. Since healthcare providers are focused on medical therapies for relief, some people incorporate self-care into their treatment plans to aid in treatment and improve their outcomes.
Healthcare providers agree that patients benefit from having some control over their healthcare decisions.
When people with psoriasis practice self-care, they become more aware of how their condition affects them and what may be needed to make themselves feel better. This, in turn, can help build their confidence.
What Does Psoriasis Self-Care Look Like?
Psoriasis self-care will look different for each person, but the focus should be on finding the right combination of self-care and medical treatment that:
- Reduces symptoms
- Minimizes flares
- Lengthens remission
Ways to practice self-care are listed below.
A healthy diet can affect a person's overall health in a positive way. For example, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several other conditions. In regards to psoriasis, it can reduce symptoms and flare-ups.
A 2020 study proposed that diet could exacerbate (worsen) psoriasis. It suggested that people avoid excess red meat, simple sugars, and alcohol.
The same study suggested foods with vitamin D, vitamin B12, dietary fiber, selenium, probiotics, and short-chain fatty acids may reduce psoriasis symptoms.
A popular way to practice self-care is with a gentle skin care routine. Taking the time for a skin care routine is a great way to be aware of how your skin changes and responds to various treatments.
Psoriasis self-skin care can include:
- Moisturizing: This is an important part of psoriasis skin care. Use moisturizer after every shower or bath to seal in moisture. This will also help reduce redness and itching.
- Avoiding scratching the skin: Scratching can trigger psoriasis. Use a cool compress or moisturizer to relieve itching, or try a product that contains menthol or camphor.
- Removing psoriasis scales gently: Picking or scratching off scales can worsen your psoriasis plaques. Instead, soften the scale before removing it by applying salicylic acid medications.
Psoriasis symptoms can worsen with winter. The colder weather, less sunlight, humidity, and dry indoor air can trigger psoriasis.
To reduce the effects of cold, dry air, make sure to do the following:
- Keep showers and baths to 10 minutes.
- Avoid using hot water for showers and baths.
- After bathing, use a fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
A healthcare provider can prescribe ultraviolet (UV) light therapy to help manage psoriasis during the fall and winter. It is done by exposing the skin to a light therapy machine at home or a healthcare provider's office. Ultraviolet light B (UVB) is found in sunlight and is the type of light that treats psoriasis.
Stress is a common psoriasis trigger. In some people, psoriasis itself is a source of stress and concern. Incorporate self-care techniques to manage stress and reduce the chance of developing a flare-up.
There are numerous ways to relax. Some techniques work better for some people than others. These include:
- Gratitude journaling
- Practicing yoga
- Participating in support groups
- Doing deep breathing exercises
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
People with psoriasis have an increased risk of sleep disorders like:
Prioritizing sleep is self-care for the whole body. Someone with a sleep disorder should seek treatment for that condition.
Find Your Triggers
Not everyone has the same psoriasis trigger. Part of self-care is finding what triggers psoriasis so it can be avoided. Common psoriasis triggers are:
Self-Care Tips to Manage Your Psoriasis Better
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition that has times when it is better and times when it's worse. Taking care of yourself can help alleviate symptoms and keep you clued in to their own health.
Follow a lifestyle that improves your psoriasis, avoid smoking, cut out alcohol, take time for yourself and relax, and keep your skin moisturized.
Another self-care tip is to seek treatment from a healthcare provider who encourages patient self-care.
Dos and Don’ts For Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be a confusing condition with a lot of guidelines. Here are the dos and don'ts for psoriasis:
- Do follow your healthcare provider's treatment plan.
- Do moisturize your skin.
- Do use a humidifier during dry months.
- Do use a cool compress to stop itching.
- Do limit the amount of time you are in the shower or bath.
- Don't scratch your skin.
- Don't pick off skin scales
- Don't bathe in hot water
Self-Care Is Whatever You Need It to Be
Practicing self-care is not a selfish act. Taking care of yourself will not only improve your health but help you take better care of others as well.
Each person will have a different vision of what their self-care routine should look like. There is no self-care plan or outline that will work for everyone, but self-care can including taking time to reflect on your health and long-term goals.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes skin rashes that can itch. There are several medical treatments available, both over-the-counter and prescription therapies.
Some people choose to incorporate self-care into their psoriasis therapy. This may include relaxation techniques, diet changes, exercise, or anything that helps them focus on themselves and their health. Your self-care plan will be unique and should include whatever you need to be as healthy as possible.
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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Psoriasis.
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Kanda N, Hoashi T, Saeki H. Nutrition and psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5405. doi:10.3390/ijms21155405
American Academy of Dermatology Associates. 8 ways to relieve itchy psoriasis.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Are triggers causing your psoriasis flare-ups?
National Psoriasis Foundation. Phototherapy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and sleep disorders.
Gupta MA, Simpson FC, Gupta AK. Psoriasis and sleep disorders: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2016;29:63-75. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2015.09.003
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