Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes thick, scaly, and itchy skin patches. Treatments, home remedies, and self-care strategies may help prevent flare-ups or reduce their severity.

About 7.5 million adults in the United States have psoriasis. Many people with psoriasis experience flare-ups, which are periods when their symptoms worsen.

This article discusses 11 ways to help manage psoriasis symptoms and prevent them from flaring up in the future.

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The best treatment option may vary from person to person and depend on the severity and location of a person’s symptoms. A dermatologist may provide guidance. A person could ask which of the prevention strategies below are most likely to be effective for them.

1. Wrap up during cold, dry weather

Dry weather in the fall and winter may trigger psoriasis flares.

In a retrospective study of 2,270 people, researchers found that 53.2% experienced worsening psoriasis symptoms during the fall and winter. This may be due to low humidity and a lack of sunlight exposure.

Wrapping up warm may help reduce winter flare-ups.

2. Keep the skin moisturized

Moisturizing is a key technique for people with psoriasis. Dryness may trigger flares and make skin scaling so severe that the skin cracks and bleeds.

A 2016 review notes that moisturizers containing mineral oils, such as liquid paraffin and petrolatum, may be particularly suitable for psoriasis management.

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

Research from 2016 suggests that 45–56% of people with psoriasis have it on their scalp.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, tar shampoos and salicylic acid may help.

If these do not work, topical or oral over-the-counter and prescription medications may help treat scalp psoriasis.

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 may be due to the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects of sunlight.

6. Avoid sunburn

Skin damage, including sunburn, is a common cause of psoriasis flares. Wearing sunscreen and limiting time in the sun during the hottest part of the day are helpful prevention strategies.

7. Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is common in people with psoriasis, particularly in the winter.

Although more research is necessary on the topic, maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels 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 may trigger the development of psoriasis lesions in areas where they are otherwise uncommon. This effect is called the Koebner phenomenon.

Tips for avoiding skin injuries include:

  • taking care when cutting the nails or shaving
  • avoiding tattoos or piercings
  • protecting against insect bites
  • taking care when preparing food
  • wearing gloves while gardening
  • avoiding dangerous activities and sports

9. Manage stress

Stress is a potential trigger for psoriasis. According to some older research cited in a 2019 study, it may lead to flare-ups in 68% of adults with the condition.

Tips for managing and reducing stress may include:

  • avoiding stressful situations
  • practicing yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness and breathing techniques
  • participating in therapy or counseling

10. Improve the diet

As with many areas of health, diet may play a role in psoriasis management.

A 2018 review found that dietary interventions — particularly those focusing on foods that reduce inflammation — may reduce the severity of this condition.

Food triggers for psoriasis may vary from person to person. Trying an anti-inflammatory or elimination diet and recording any improvements in symptoms may help a person identify their triggers.

A calorie-controlled diet may help improve psoriasis symptoms in people with overweight, and avoiding gluten may reduce the severity of symptoms in people with gluten sensitivity.

However, a person should discuss any major dietary change with their doctor before trying it.

11. Avoid certain medications

Some medications may trigger psoriasis flares, including:

A doctor can examine a person’s treatment regimen, identify any medications that may be having this effect, and recommend the next steps.

Depending on the severity and location of a person’s symptoms, these strategies may not prevent all flare-ups.

A doctor may also recommend:

  • medicated creams
  • oral medications
  • systemic or biologic medications

The signs and symptoms of psoriasis may vary depending on the type of psoriasis. For example, plaque, guttate, and pustular psoriasis may have different symptoms. The location and extent of affected skin may also influence the appearance of symptoms.

However, psoriasis typically causes dry patches of skin that may be thick, raised, and covered in whitish scales. If a person’s skin is lighter, the affected areas may look pinkish. If a person’s skin is darker, the areas may look purple, violet, or gray.

During a flare-up, symptoms worsen. As it subsides, they 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 cells, as a defense mechanism to fight infection.

However, these cells then mistakenly attack the body’s own cells rather than the 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, and injuries, may cause the condition to appear for the first time or cause existing symptoms to flare. Specific triggers vary from person to person.

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.

How long does a psoriasis flare-up last?

Psoriasis may be very unpredictable. The duration of flares can depend on the type of psoriasis a person has, but they may last several weeks to months.

What are the triggers for psoriasis?

Triggers for psoriasis vary from person to person. However, common triggers include:

  • dry air
  • smoking
  • skin injuries
  • stress
  • alcohol consumption
  • hormone changes
  • infections
  • other immune conditions

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 may help prevent flares and reduce symptoms that arise.

Various environmental triggers, such as stress, may cause symptoms to flare. Identifying these triggers and taking steps to avoid or manage them can help make living with psoriasis easier.