- 7 Tips for Psoriasis Skin Care
- Self-Care Tips for Psoriasis
- Psoriasis self-care
- Triggers for psoriasis
- See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional
- Treatment Tips
- Treatment Options
- Emollients and moisturisers
- Coal tar, salicyclic acid and sulphur-containing products
- Ichthammol-containing products
- Topical steroids
- More Information
- General measures and quality of life issues in psoriasis
- Psoriasis – Living with
- Further information
- Psoriasis Awareness Month
7 Tips for Psoriasis Skin Care
The itchy, inflamed skin that comes with psoriasis is treatable. Making simple tweaks to your daily routine can promote healing and calm flare-ups.
It's one of the most effective yet easiest things you can do for irritated skin. It can help your skin heal and reduce dryness, itching, redness, soreness, and scaling.
Choose your moisturizer how dry your skin is. Ointments are thick, heavy, and good at locking in moisture. Lotions are thinner and get absorbed more easily. Or, you can pick a cream that falls somewhere in between. Remember, a product doesn’t have to be expensive to work well. Look for a fragrance free moisturizer.
After your bath or shower is a good time to gently pat on the lotion. Reapply throughout the day and when you change clothes. Use more on cold or dry days.
Another way to keep your skin moist is to use a humidifier in your home, especially when the air is hot and dry. If the heat is on, turn on the humidifier. It will help your skin retain moisture better.
A daily warm bath using a mild soap can help soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin.
Take 15 minutes to soak in the warm water. You might find comfort if you add oil, finely ground oatmeal, Epsom salt, or Dead Sea salt to your bath, but keep the water and soap mild. Hot temperatures and harsh soaps can be hard on skin that's already sensitive.
Try not to rub your skin with the towel as you dry off. Gently pat dry instead. The rubbing action can make sores worse and even cause new ones. Follow immediately with a moisturizer.
If you don't have time for a bath, you can still put a wet towel or cold compress on the trouble spot. Read more about skin care tips for psoriasis.
The ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight can slow the growth of skin cells, so small doses of sun can be a good way to soothe, improve, and even heal psoriasis lesions. Even indoor light can make a difference.
Try to get some sun two or three times a week, and use sunscreen on your healthy skin. Too much sun (or sunburn) raises your risk of skin cancer and may make your outbreaks worse.
Talk to your doctor before adding UV therapy to your routine. And schedule regular skin checkups to be sure you’re not overdoing it.
Studies show that stress can make psoriasis and itching worse. Some people even trace their first outbreak to a very stressful event. You might be able to calm symptoms simply by lowering your anxiety.
There are many ways to lower stress. Build a support system of family and friends. Think about what's most important to you and take time for it. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help. Even a long walk around the neighborhood might calm you.
Other ways to bust stress:
- Eat healthy.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
These will also help you fight off infections that may trigger flares. Find out how to get emotional support during psoriasis treatment.
Avoid harsh products lotions with alcohol, deodorant soaps, acids (glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid), and even some laundry soaps. These can inflame your sensitive skin. Feel the texture of the fabric of the clothes you buy. Make sure they are soft and comfortable. Avoid wool and mohair. They can irritate already inflamed skin.
There's no doubt about it: When you itch, you want to scratch. But scratching can tear open your skin, making way for infection-causing germs. It may also make sores appear where there weren't any before. Keep your nails short. and take an antihistamine if you are itchy.
And picking at your skin can lead to infection. When you have an urge, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and gently rub on moisturizer instead.
Smoking can trigger flares. Talk to your doctor to help you decide the best way to quit. For some, nicotine patches make psoriasis worse.
Heavy drinking can also trigger symptoms. It can even be dangerous when combined with some psoriasis drugs. If you drink, keep it moderate — that’s up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men.
National Psoriasis Foundation: “Faqs: Questions About Lifestyle And Living With Psoriasis,” “Mild Psoriasis: Over the Counter (OTC),” “For Teens: Lifestyle Factors and Social Life,” “Ask the Expert,” “Phototherapy.”
The Psoriasis Association: “Frequently Asked Questions.”
American College of Physicians. Complete Home Medical Guide, DK Publishing Inc., 2003.
Psoriasis Net: American Academy of Dermatology: “Psoriasis Triggers.”
Cram, D. Coping With Psoriasis. Addicus Books Inc., 2000.
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. How to Treat Cracks and Bleeding
Self-Care Tips for Psoriasis
Medicines work best, but you can do things to treat your psoriasis without a prescription.
After putting on thick lotions or creams, seal in the moisture with ointments petroleum jelly, shortening, or olive oil. Dry skin makes the irritation and itchiness worse. But don't use too much during hot, sticky summer months. Sweat mixed with thick creams can make your psoriasis worse.
Right after your bath or shower, pat yourself dry — don't rub — with a towel. Then put the creams on to seal in water.
Before you go to bed, wrap your skin with a bandage or plastic wrap. In the morning, wash the area gently. Over time, this can help with scaling.
Baths and showers can dry your skin. To keep that from happening:
- Make sure the water’s not too hot. Lukewarm is best.
- Add non-fragrance salts or oil or finely ground oatmeal to bathwater after you've soaked for a minute. Plain water can suck moisture out.
- Take fewer showers and baths. They can strip your skin of natural oils. Bathe every other day or every third day, especially in the winter.
It may not be a lot of fun to slather thick goo on psoriasis patches day after day. But stick with it. If your doctor prescribes creams or ointments, make them part of your daily routine.
Sunlight can treat your skin condition, but sunburns make it worse. Use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and has an SPF of 30 or higher on areas that don't have psoriasis. Limit how much sun you get. Twenty minutes a day 3 days a week is a good start. Talk to your doctor first, though. Some medicines aren't safe when you get lots of sun.
You can add psoriasis to the long list of health problems this habit makes worse. In one study, people who smoked more than a pack a day were twice as ly to have a serious case as those who smoked half a pack or less. The effects were even stronger in women who already had psoriasis.
Kicking the habit is one of the best things you can do to care for your condition.
Psoriasis is more common in people who drink heavily. Alcohol may affect men's psoriasis more than women's. Women should have no more than one drink a day, and men should stop at two.
There’s no solid evidence that any one food makes psoriasis better or worse. At the same time, many say their sores got better after they cut back on foods sugar, white flour, or caffeine. It won’t hurt to try, especially if you cut out not so healthy foods.
Don’t let your condition affect your self-esteem. Ask for help if you find it's taking a toll on you. Talk to a therapist such as a psychologist or social worker or join a support group. Time with other people who understand what you're going through can help.
American Academy of Dermatology: “What is Psoriasis?”
National Psoriasis Foundation: “Sunlight and Other Psoriasis Treatments,” “Time to Kick the Habit? Thinking Twice About Alcohol and Cigarettes,” “Treatment Overview,” “Your Diet and Psoriasis: Maintaining Overall Well-Being,” “Itch Relief.”
University of California San Francisco: “Sunblock.”
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Skin Care
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that can occur anywhere on your skin. It has been reported to affect 2% of the Australian population, with males and females affected equally, and can occur at any age. The most common age for psoriasis to begin is between 20 and 30 years.
About 25% of people find their psoriasis is itchy, and others may have a burning feeling on the skin.
The appearance of psoriasis depends on what part of your body is affected. On areas such as your back, trunk, arms and legs there may be red patches, often covered with thick silvery-white scales (‘plaque’ psoriasis), or there may be small red spots scattered across your skin (‘guttate’ psoriasis).
Psoriasis on your scalp can look severe dandruff, and there can be hair loss. It can affect your nails, distorting their shape and making them pitted and yellow; this is usually only seen in patients who have had the skin condition for a long time. On the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, psoriasis can look pustules, or blisters surrounded by red skin.
Psoriasis can also occur in your skin folds, such as in your groin, under breasts or in your armpits. Here, it often appears as smooth, shiny red patches.
Between 10% and 30% of people with psoriasis will also have psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints.
Psoriasis tends to come and go over time. There is no cure, but there are treatments available to relieve the symptoms. It is not contagious and cannot spread from person to person. Un dermatitis or eczema, psoriasis is generally not itchy.
Triggers for psoriasis
The cause of psoriasis is not known, but it often runs in families, and the environment may affect it.
Some of the known factors that can trigger psoriasis or make it worse include:
- injury to the skin, including severe sunburn
- certain medicines
- hormonal changes
See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional
- if you think you have psoriasis
- if you do have psoriasis, you may be referred to a dermatologist (skin specialist), who can give you a personalised treatment plan
- psoriasis can be distressing; your doctor can give you advice and refer you to community support organisations
- avoid scratching, rubbing or picking at the psoriasis
- keep your skin cool and moisturised to help reduce itching
- avoid soaps which can dry and irritate skin. Instead use soap-free washes
- try to avoid triggers which you know make your psoriasis worse
- don’t smoke
- minimise alcohol
- have a healthy varied diet
- use relaxation techniques to minimise stress
- exposure to the sun may help, but be mindful of the need to balance sun exposure against the risks of skin cancer. The Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide sun care plan is still recommended.
- your doctor or dermatologist can prescribe treatments for your psoriasis
- management of your psoriasis may require long-term treatment
- mild psoriasis can usually be managed with creams and ointments
- you may need to try more than one treatment before you find the one that works for you
- emollients and moisturisers can help to reduce dryness and scaling
- more severe psoriasis may need treatment with medicines taken by mouth
- phototherapy may also be prescribed by the dermatologist, and consists of sessions under a sun lamp
- there are some treatments you can buy from your pharmacy which may be helpful to have on hand at home, but always discuss using these with your GP or dermatologist
- not all products are suitable for use by children or during pregnancy or breastfeeding; ask your pharmacist for advice
Emollients and moisturisers
e.g. QV range, Aveeno range, Alpha Keri Lotion, Hamilton range, E45 range, Cetaphil range, DermaVeen Baby range
- can be used as often as needed to help soften and soothe skin, reducing cracking and dryness
- when using a new product for the first time, do a patch test to ensure that you are not sensitive to the product. Take a small amount of product and dab it onto a small area of skin. Wait for a few hours. If no redness or irritation is seen, the product should be safe to use on your skin
Coal tar, salicyclic acid and sulphur-containing products
e.g. coal tar products (Exorex Psoriasis Medication Topical Emulsion, Ionil T Shampoo, Linotar Gel, Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo, Polytar Liquid)
e.g. coal tar + salicylic acid (Sebitar Shampoo, Ionil T Scalp Cleanser)
e.g. coal tar + sulphur + phenol (Egopsoryl TA Gel)
e.g. coal tar + salicylic acid + sulphur (Psor-Asist Cream)
e.g. pantothenic acid + retinol + salicylic acid + urea (Psor-Asist Scalp Lotion)
- coal tar, salicyclic acid and sulphur have been used for many years in the management of psoriasis; some products contain a combination of these ingredients
- coal tar may help to reduce itching, scaling and inflammation, and is available in gels, ointments, shampoos and bath products. Be careful when applying as it can stain skin and clothing
- salicyclic acid may help to remove or soften scales and is available in many types of products
- these products are not suitable for use during acute flare-ups or for pustular psoriasis
- don’t apply coal tar products to broken, inflamed or blistered skin
e.g. Egoderm Cream, Egoderm Ointment, Toppin Ichthammol Ointment
e.g. hydrocortisone 0.5% (up to 30 g) (DermAid Cream, DermAid Soft Cream, Sigmacort Cream and Sigmacort Ointment, Cortic DS Cream and Ointment)
e.g. hydrocortisone 1% (DermAid Cream, DermAid Soft Cream, Sigmacort), clobetasone 0.05% (Eumovate Cream, Kloxema Cream, Becoderm-C Cream)
e.g. hydrocortisone 1% [more than 30 g]; more potent steroids
- steroid creams should only be used for psoriasis if recommended by your doctor
- they reduce redness, scaling and itching
- do not apply to broken or infected skin
- do not use on your face except on medical advice
- steroid creams can cause permanent thinning of your skin if overused, so apply sparingly and do not use more often than recommended
- do not use steroid creams for longer than 1 week or in children under 2 years old, except on medical advice
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General measures and quality of life issues in psoriasis
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Psoriasis – Living with
Although psoriasis is just a minor irritation for some people, it can significantly impact quality of life for those more severely affected.
If you have psoriasis, you may find the following advice helpful.
Self-care is an essential part of your daily life. It involves taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing, with support from those involved in your care.
Self-care includes staying fit, maintaining good physical and mental health, preventing illness or accidents, and caring more effectively for minor illnesses and long-term conditions.
People with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from self-care. They can live longer; have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue; have a better quality of life; and be more active and independent. Having a care plan will help you manage your treatment so that it fits your lifestyle.
- Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA): self help
It's important to use your treatment as prescribed, even if your psoriasis improves. Continuous treatment can help prevent flare-ups. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment or any side effects, talk to your GP or healthcare team.
Because psoriasis is usually a long-term condition, you may be in regular contact with your healthcare team. Discuss your symptoms or concerns with them, as the more the team knows, the more they can help you.
If you regularly pay for more than 3 prescriptions a month, you may save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).
To check the cost of a PPC, call 0845 850 0030 or check leaflet HC12 (available in some pharmacies or GP surgeries).
Psoriasis Awareness Month
Annoying and unpredictable, psoriasis is a persistent skin condition that’s not completely understood. The symptoms vary the different types of psoriasis, but they share a common characteristic: skin cells that multiply rapidly. We’ve put together some information about the disease for Psoriasis Awareness Month.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes scaly, red, raised areas to appear on the skin. It most frequently affects the scalp, knees or outside of the elbows, but it can appear anywhere on the body. The affected skin may itch, burn or sting.
The patches of irritated skin develop because psoriasis increases the life cycle of skin cells, causing them to multiply and build up rapidly. As the extra skin cells die, the sheer volume of excess cells causes the scales and red patches to form.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that tends to come and go in cycles.
Types of Psoriasis
There are five main types of psoriasis, and the symptoms vary by type.
- Plaque psoriasis – The most common type, it’s characterized by red, raised patches covered by a white buildup of dead cells. These plaques are often painful or itchy, and may crack and bleed.
- Guttate – Most often found in children and young adults, this form appears as small, water-drop-shaped lesions. It can be triggered by a bacterial infection, strep.
- Inverse – This type appears as red lesions in body folds, often behind the knee, in the armpits, under the breasts and in the groin. Many times it appears at the same time as another type of psoriasis.
- Pustular – Characterized by white blisters or pustules, this kind of psoriasis is found most often on the hands and feet.
- Erythrodermic – Rare and particularly severe, this type leads to fiery redness over large areas of the body. It can cause severe pain and itching, and requires immediate medical attention.
People with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes painful, swollen joints. The symptoms may be mild or severe, and any joint can be affected. Psoriatic arthritis isn’t usually as disabling as other types of arthritis, but it can still cause stiffness and joint damage.
The severity of psoriasis varies how much of the body’s surface area is affected as well as the impact on the person’s quality of life. Mild cases cover less than 3 percent of the body, moderate cases cover between 3 and 10 percent and severe cases cover more than 10 percent.
Causes of Psoriasis
No one knows for sure what causes psoriasis, but genetics and the immune system play an important role. The skin condition often runs in families, but it may skip generations. It most frequently develops in people between the ages of 15 and 35, with men and women developing the condition at equal rates. Psoriasis is not contagious, so you can’t get it from others.
A number of factors can cause an episode of psoriasis. Learning to identify and avoid triggers may help reduce episodes. Common triggers include:
- Infections, strep throat or skin infections
- Skin injury, scrapes, cuts, bug bites or severe sunburns
- Emotional trauma
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Certain medications, including high blood pressure medication, lithium anti-malarial drugs and iodides
Risk Factors for Psoriasis
Anyone can get psoriasis, but certain factors put you at a higher risk.
- Family history
- Viral and bacterial infections
Diagnosis of Psoriasis
Diagnosing psoriasis is usually straightforward. Your doctor or dermatologist will ask about your medical history and examine your skin, scalp and nails. They may also take a biopsy so they can examine the affected skin under the microscope.
Treatments focuses on reducing inflammation and clearing the skin. They fall into three main categories: topical treatments, light therapy and systemic medications.
- Topical treatments – For mild to moderate psoriasis, creams and ointments can be used alone to treat affected skin. For severe cases, creams are usually combined with other forms of treatment. Topical treatments include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, Anthralin, topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar and moisturizers.
- Light therapy – Phototherapy uses ultraviolet light. Exposure must be carefully controlled to prevent skin damage and limit side effects. Types of light therapy include sunlight, UVB phototherapy, Goeckerman therapy, psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) and excimer laser.
- Systemic medications – Oral or injected medications are usually reserved for severe cases of psoriasis or those that don’t respond to other forms of treatment. Many of these drugs have possible severe side effects, so they are often used only for short periods of time. Systemic medications include retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and drugs called biologics that alter the immune system.
Self-Care for Psoriasis
Self-care won’t cure psoriasis, but it can help you feel better and improve the appearance of the skin. Some home remedies that may help include:
- Take baths – Daily baths can help calm skin and remove scales. Avoid harsh soap and hot water; instead use lukewarm water and mild soap.
- Use moisturizer – Apply a heavy moisturizer after bathing or showering while the skin is still damp.
- Avoid triggers – Take steps to identify your common triggers, then try to avoid them.
- Avoid alcohol – The effectiveness of certain psoriasis treatments may decrease with alcohol consumption.
Psoriasis can be a challenging condition to cope with, but proper treatments help keep it under control. Be sure to communicate with your doctor and talk about any concerns you have about psoriasis. A healthcare group SLMA is a great choice for patients with psoriasis because your doctor and dermatologist can work together to coordinate your treatment plan.