Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune condition that affects the skin. There is no cure, but treatments, home remedies, and self-care strategies can prevent flare-ups or reduce their severity.
Managing psoriasis might involve using prescribed medications, avoiding triggers, and making other lifestyle changes.
Below, find 11 ways to reduce psoriasis symptoms and prevent them from flaring up in the future.
The best treatment option may vary from person to person. Experimenting and finding the best combination of approaches can help. A dermatologist can provide guidance, and a person might ask which of the strategies below are most likely to be effective for them.
1. Wrap up during cold, dry weather
This type of weather can trigger psoriasis flares.
Scientists do not fully understand why flares are more common in wintry weather, but some research suggests that cold and dark conditions with low humidity cause the skin to thicken and become inflamed.
Wrapping up warm reduces the skin’s exposure to cold, dry air, and this may help prevent winter flare-ups.
2. Keep the skin moisturized
Moisturizing is a key technique for people with psoriasis. This is because dryness can trigger flares and make skin scaling so severe that the skin cracks and bleeds.
People might also try moisturizing with coconut oil or aloe vera gel, both of which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Keep the scalp moisturized
When psoriasis affects the scalp, it is important to keep this area moisturized.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, tar shampoos and salicylic acid can help.
4. Use a humidifier
Using a home humidifier helps keep the air moist. This may help moisturize the skin and reduce psoriasis symptoms. A humidifier may be particularly useful in the winter.
5. Get regular exposure to sunlight
UV radiation has immunosuppressive effects. As a result, it may help reduce symptoms of autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis.
UV light therapy is a treatment option for people with psoriasis. But short, regular exposure to natural sunlight may also help improve psoriasis symptoms and prevent flares. This
Learn more about light therapy for psoriasis here.
6. Avoid sunburn
Skin damage, including sunburn, is a common cause of psoriasis flares. Wearing sunscreen and limiting time spent in the sun during the hottest part of the day are helpful strategies.
7. Supplement with Vitamin D
While identifying a link between the vitamin and the health condition requires additional research, maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups.
People can get more vitamin D from:
- natural sunlight
- certain foods, such as salmon, milk, and fortified cereals
- vitamin D supplements
8. Prevent skin injuries
Skin injuries can trigger the development of psoriasis lesions in areas where they are otherwise uncommon. This effect is called the Koebner phenomenon.
Avoiding skin injuries, when possible, may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Tips include:
- taking extra care when cutting the nails or shaving
- avoiding tattoos or piercings
- protecting against insect bites
- taking extra care when preparing food
- wearing gloves while gardening
- avoiding dangerous activities and sports
9. Reduce stress
Stress is a potential trigger for psoriasis, and it may lead to flare-ups in 68% of adults with the condition.
Taking steps to reduce stress may help prevent flare-ups. Tips include:
- avoiding stressful situations
- practicing yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness and breathing techniques
- having therapy or counseling
10. Improve the diet
As with many areas of health, the diet may play a role in psoriasis management.
Food triggers for psoriasis may vary from person to person. Trying an elimination diet and recording any improvements in symptoms may help a person identify their triggers.
A calorie-controlled diet may also help improve psoriasis symptoms for people with overweight, while avoiding gluten may reduce the severity of symptoms for people with gluten sensitivity.
Learn more about anti-inflammatory diets here.
11. Avoid certain medications
Some medications may trigger psoriasis flares. A doctor can examine a person’s treatment regimens and identify any medications that may be having this effect, then recommend the best next steps.
The various types of psoriasis, such as plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis, each have different symptoms. The location and extent of affected skin can also influence how the symptoms appear.
Psoriasis often causes dry patches that may be thick, elevated and covered in whitish scales. The patches may also itch. If a person’s skin is lighter, the affected areas may be pinkish. If a person’s skin is darker, the areas may be purple, violet, or gray.
A flare-up involves symptoms worsening. As it subsides, the symptoms may become milder or disappear.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. Certain triggers cause the immune system to release T cells, a type of white blood cell, as a defense mechanism to fight infection.
However, these cells then mistakenly attack the body’s own cells, rather than the invasive pathogen. In someone with psoriasis, this leads to excessive growth of skin cells.
The underlying cause of psoriasis is not clear, but it may be genetic.
Environmental triggers, such as medications, stress, smoking, or an injury, can cause the condition to erupt for the first time, and they can cause existing symptoms to flare. The specific triggers vary from person to person.
The strategies above can help, but it may not be possible to prevent all flare-ups.
Knowing how to manage symptoms when they arise is key. A doctor may recommend:
- regular moisturizing
- UV light therapy
- medicated creams
- oral medications
- systemic or biologic medications
Below, we answer some of the more common questions about psoriasis.
What is the treatment for psoriasis?
The best approach varies from person to person. Generally, it involves topical and oral medications, phototherapy, and self-care strategies, such as those we describe above.
Learn about home remedies for psoriasis.
How long does a psoriasis flare-up last?
Psoriasis can be very unpredictable. The duration of flares can depend on the type of psoriasis a person has, but they may last
What medications cause psoriasis flare-ups?
Among the many medications that can trigger psoriasis symptoms are beta-blockers, interferons, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and biologics.
Learn about medications that cause psoriasis.
How to treat a scalp psoriasis flare-up?
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help treat scalp psoriasis. These can be oral or topical products. A person to alternate treatments, as the effect of each medication may lessen after prolonged use.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition, and the symptoms may come and go throughout a person’s lifetime.
There is no cure, but certain remedies, treatments, and self-care strategies can prevent flares and reduce symptoms that do arise. Some strategies include avoiding cold, dry environments, moisturizing regularly, and trying an anti-inflammatory diet.
Various environmental triggers, such as stress, can cause symptoms to flare. Identifying these triggers and taking steps to avoid or manage them can help make living with psoriasis easier.