According to the World Psoriasis Day consortium, over 125 million people have psoriasis. This chronic disease attacks the immune system and overproduces skin cells. Patients suffer from itchy, burning skin that makes even showering painful. Buying the right lotion, getting sun, and other simple remedies can soothe symptoms. For instant relief, follow these healthy habits for psoriasis.
Stop Scratching! Here’s How
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 90% of psoriasis patients experience itching. Inflammation causes itching, which is why you should not scratch it. Scratching will exacerbate the inflammation, making your symptoms (and psoriasis) worse.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends doing anything you can to prevent scratching. Apply moisturizer or a cold compress. If you feel itchy when your skin gets dry, try to shower less often. Itch-relieving creams and medications can also help in a pinch.
How To Not Pick Or Exfoliate
Many patients pick at or scrub off the itchy, scaly psoriasis patches. But try not to do this. Penn Medicine says that over-exfoliating can damage the already inflamed skin, which might trigger a flare-up.
Do not pick, and do not scrub off the skin with a loofah or exfoliator. If the patches are bothering you, and you want some exfoliation, take a bath. A 15-minute warm (not hot) bath will moisten the scales and help them fall off naturally. Add some oatmeal or Epsom salts for extra moisture.
Get Some Sun
In 2015, a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that psoriasis patients tend to feel better in summer. Thank the sun. UV rays and vitamin D have anti-inflammation effects that can heal the skin.
Dermatologist Julie Moore advises her psoriasis patients to sunbathe daily. “Thirty minutes is adequate to improve the skin; you do not need to sit out for hours,” she said. Remember to put on sunscreen! Burnt skin will ruin the health benefits that the sun gives you.
Sunscreen Will Not Block The Sun’s Health Effects
Although sunbathing can help psoriasis, patients should also wear sunscreen. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance explains that UVB rays heal psoriasis symptoms. However, UVB rays also cause sunburns.
If that happens, your symptoms will become worse. Sunscreen does not block all UVB rays. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, SPF 30 inhibits 97% of UVB rays. So you can apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or more and still benefit from sunbathing. Buy a sunscreen with no fragrance that is made for sensitive skin.
Bathe In Warm Water, Not Hot
Many people believe that a hot shower will hydrate your skin. But the University of Utah says no; hot water can dry out your skin, especially if you stay in it for a long time. If you have psoriasis, hot showers or baths can worsen symptoms.
“Any skin condition characterized by a defective skin barrier can be worsened by a hot shower,” explains dermatologist Shari Marchbein. The hot water strips natural skin oils, which dehydrates it. Lower the water temperature to make it lukewarm.
Take Shorter Showers And Baths
If you drink a lot of water, your skin will get hydrated. But if you sit in water for a while, it will get dehydrated. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, the co-founder of Specific Beauty skincare, told HuffPost that long showers can exacerbate conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Dermatologist Rashmi Unwala, who specializes in treating psoriasis at Cleveland Clinic, advises patients to limit showers between five and 15 minutes. “It can make already inflamed skin feel even worse.” For baths, adding oatmeal, coal tars, or hydrating bath oils can alleviate symptoms.
Choose The Right Lotion
Many psoriasis patients use lotion to soothe itching and burning. But if you use the wrong lotion, it could worsen your symptoms. The National Psoriasis Foundation advises patients to avoid scents, chemicals, and dyes.
Essential oils can also irritate psoriasis because they are so highly concentrated. Dr. Bruce Strober, the chair of dermatology at UConn Health, recommends the brands Cetaphil, Eucerin, Aveeno, Neutrogena, and CeraVe. Buy lotions that are made for psoriasis and have no fragrance. Apply it in the morning and night, and after showering, Strober says.
Shaving With Psoriasis: How To Make It Painless
For some psoriasis patients, shaving can be painful or risky. But it doesn’t have to be, says dermatologist Michelle Pelle. She advises patients to get a psoriasis-friendly razor.
Get “electric razors or razors with the fewest blades—three or less,” she told Everyday Health. For many patients, standard shaving cream is too irritating. Dermatologists recommend using shaving gel instead of cream or even using conditioner. Shave slowly and avoid nicks. Immediately after you finish, moisturize the area.
Always Use Medications As Prescribed
Psoriasis patients have a variety of medications available. According to the National Health Service, psoriasis medications come in three categories: topical (creams and ointments), systemic (oral and injected drugs), and phototherapy. These drugs are designed to lower inflammation and slow the rate of skin cell growth, which causes dead skin in psoriasis.
Dermatologist Harold Farber recommends getting some medications along with moisturizers and other natural remedies. Apply lotion at least twice a day, and use prescriptions as directed.
Wash With Gentle Cleansers
Psoriasis patients might not react well to standard body and face soaps. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told Bustle that commercial soaps can aggravate already inflamed skin. “You want to stick to gentle, hydrating face washes that will effectively clean the skin without disrupting the skin barrier or cause inflammation,” he said.
Choose cleansers without fragrance, and never exfoliate; it will only worsen your symptoms. Face washes that are labeled “cleanser” that foam upon contact should be gentle enough. Cerave, Cetaphil, and Eurcerin offer appropriate washes for psoriasis.