7 Self-Care Tips That Can Reduce Psoriasis Symptoms
Because genetics and environment both play a role in who ultimately develops psoriasis, people can sometimes feel like they don’t have much control over their condition—it’s just something that happened to them, and now they have to live with it. While there is some truth to that (psoriasis can’t be cured), research has found that certain self-care behaviors may help reduce the number of flares and psoriasis severity.
Meaning: You might have more control over your condition than you realize. But what exactly does self-care entail? And which practices are going to make the biggest difference?
Hydrate Inside and Out
Reena Patel, M.D., is a board-certified family medicine practitioner who treats patients with psoriasis and also has psoriasis herself. One of her biggest self-care tips is to maintain hydration.
“Keep your skin hydrated and healthy,” she says. “Dry skin feels worse with psoriasis.”
To do that, she suggests drinking plenty of water, using warm water instead of hot to bathe or shower, and applying emollient-based moisturizers after every bath and shower. Moisture goes a long way in protecting the skin barrier and preventing itchiness and cracking.
Watch What You Eat
“For me, the food comes first. It’s an oft-forgotten type of self-care that can have an amazing positive outcome,” says Sonka Braunová, a registered nutritional therapist in the United Kingdom.
“Psoriasis is a multi-system autoinflammatory condition, meaning your immune system is out of balance in your body,” says board-certified dermatologist Scott Paviol, M.D.
According to Paviol, inflammation can be a good thing when you have an active infection or injury, since inflammation is the body’s way of protecting you as you heal and get well. But when you have psoriasis, your body is overreacting with that inflammatory state. “Because of this, people with psoriasis need to work really hard to decrease inflammation in the body.”
Diet can be an effective way to decrease this inflammation. Many practitioners recommend their patients with psoriasis stick to an overall healthy, balanced eating plan and avoid junk food as much as possible.
“There is a strong connection between psoriasis and liver function,” adds Braunová. “Therefore, removing the toxins from the plate and bringing colorful vegetables and good-quality protein and good-quality fat is beautiful self-care from the inside out.”
Adopt Healthy Habits
“I often ask my patients, if you had a million-dollar racehorse, how would you feed it, treat it, and train it?” says Paviol. The answer, he says, is that you would give it the best foods, the best exercise regimen, and maybe even an occasional treat. “In reality, we should be treating ourselves as million-dollar racehorses, and even more so if we have medical conditions such as psoriasis.”
But it’s not just sticking with an anti-inflammatory diet that will help you gain control over your condition. You should also:
- Limit alcohol intake to fewer than two drinks a week
- Abstain from tobacco products
- Manage stress
- Get plenty of sleep
- Exercise regularly
Make Mind-Body Connections
While nothing should replace physician-approved treatments, there’s plenty of evidence that an integrative approach—incorporating alternative therapies—can help some people with psoriasis. This includes stress-reducing practices, like yoga, massage, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture.
There’s also limited research that suggests hypnosis could help. “The subconscious mind controls skin function,” says Eli Bliliuos, a hypnotist in New York City. “In hypnosis, the subconscious mind can be programmed to minimize psoriasis and manage stress, which triggers psoriasis.”
Feel free to explore practices that ease your mind to see if they also help ease your symptoms, with your doctor’s okay.
Connect with Other People with Psoriasis
“For those who suffer from psoriasis, it can sometimes feel as though this condition is taking over your life as it can be really hard to manage,” says Vikram Rajkomar, M.R.C.P., a dermatologist who regularly treats patients with psoriasis in the UK.
Finding the right psoriasis treatment and waiting for that treatment to work can take time, and it’s common to feel frustrated and alone. That’s why Rajkomar recommends reaching out for support from within the psoriasis community. You can connect with others right here on our site and app and also explore in-person support groups in your area.
Talking with others with similar experiences is a reminder that you aren’t alone. Plus, people sometimes have ideas and suggestions for what may help that you might not have tried yet.
See Your Doctor Regularly
“For further self-care tips, speak to your general practitioner and dermatologist,” says Rajkomar. “Living with psoriasis can put strain and stress on your body and mental health, so it is important to look after yourself.”
Your condition may change as time goes on, and so might your treatment plan, so checking in regularly with your doctor will help you continue to manage your psoriasis. Plus, they may have additional ideas for self-care practices you can adopt.
Do What Brings You Joy
In general, self-care should include activities that help you to feel more like yourself: reading a good book, riding a horse, going for a walk with your dogs, or even joining a team sport.
Anything that brings you joy and gets you out of the headspace of feeling frustrated by your condition is a good thing—it’s self-care that will help to improve your mental state, and maybe even reduce your psoriasis symptoms in the process.
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