Living with psoriasis can involve many challenges, as the condition may affect physical, mental, and social health. However, people can take steps to manage this condition. Living a balanced lifestyle, regularly attending appointments, and practicing stress management techniques are among the ways to minimize symptoms and improve the quality of life.
It is also important to focus on self-care, as taking good care of the skin, hair, and nails can help reduce the severity and frequency of certain symptoms, such as itching. Some people may also benefit from seeking support from friends, family members, or support groups.
Keep reading to learn more about lifestyle and self-care practices that may be helpful for those living with psoriasis.
People with psoriasis may also experience comorbidities. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) notes that living with psoriasis increases the risk of developing other health problems, such as heart disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes.
The difficulties that people with psoriasis face may extend beyond physical health. A 2020 study on living with this condition highlights the stigma that these individuals frequently experience. The authors state that social and clothing restrictions, prevention of activities, and lack of a cure can all contribute to a lower quality of life.
However, they add that the following could help improve the quality of life for people with psoriasis:
- improving public awareness
- building acceptance of the disease
- improving multidisciplinary care
- developing more effective medications
- reducing stress
These conclusions are consistent with those of an
By implementing various lifestyle practices and self-care tips, a person with psoriasis may be able to reduce some of these negative effects.
Doctors may recommend the following:
- Eating a healthy diet: The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) reports that there is evidence to suggest that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the severity of psoriasis. This anti-inflammatory diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish.
- Stopping smoking: A
2016 articlestates that individuals who smoke have a higher risk of psoriasis. Smoking may also make the condition more severe and reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
- Maintaining a moderate weight: The AAD advises that losing excess body weight may lead to fewer flare-ups and make medications more effective.
- Only drinking alcohol in moderation: A
2019 articlenotes that alcohol consumption may trigger or worsen psoriasis. However, the authors say that more research is necessary to prove the link and determine the amount of alcohol that may cause negative effects.
- Reducing stress: Stress often triggers flare-ups of psoriasis. Stress-reducing strategies, such as meditation, exercise, and deep breathing, may help reduce the severity or frequency of flare-ups.
- Getting regular exercise: Research indicates that psoriasis improves with regular workouts. People should check with their doctor before starting an exercise routine, but most individuals with psoriasis who are otherwise healthy can benefit from physical activity.
- Joining a support group or seeing a mental health practitioner: Living with psoriasis can affect mental health and increase the risk of conditions such as anxiety and depression. Getting support can help a person better manage their mental health.
- Visiting healthcare providers regularly: Although there is no cure for psoriasis, a doctor can prescribe medications and other treatments that may help control symptoms.
- Help with healthcare costs: If healthcare finances are contributing to stress, people can check whether their insurance plan may help cover costs.
Alongside lifestyle practices, self-care can play a role in minimizing symptom frequency and severity. The AAD offers the below tips for taking care of the skin, hair, and nails, as well as for relieving itch.
People with psoriasis typically experience dry skin that can easily become irritated. Measures to prevent further drying and irritation include:
- taking a short bath or shower with warm water instead of taking a long, hot bath
- using a moisturizing soap that is suitable for sensitive skin
- applying a fragrance-free moisturizer after showering or bathing
If psoriasis affects the scalp, it can make it dry and irritated. Measures to prevent scalp flare-ups include:
- being gentle when brushing the hair
- avoiding tight hairstyles
- limiting the use of hot rollers or curling irons
- avoiding the use of hair colorants, relaxants, and perms when symptoms are worse
When psoriasis affects the nails, the following measures may protect them from injuries:
- keeping the nails short and avoiding pushing up the cuticles
- avoiding biting the nails or applying artificial nails
- wearing gloves when doing manual work, such as dishwashing or yard work
The following measures can help relieve a persistent itch:
- getting medical treatment for psoriasis
- removing scales with medications, such as salicylic acid
- avoiding scratching
- using an itch-relieving product, such as one with camphor or menthol
- applying products containing coal tar, which can be effective for scalp psoriasis and plaques
Anything that comes into contact with the skin may irritate psoriasis. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance recommends wearing loose clothing, especially during flare-ups, to prevent further irritation from clothing. It may also be advisable to avoid constrictive garments, such as elasticized waistbands, tights, and socks.
A caregiver for a person with psoriasis may be a family member, friend, or neighbor. Some caregivers give occasional help, while others provide extensive day-to-day services. The type of support varies, but it may include everything from making doctor appointments to encouraging someone with psoriasis to take prescribed treatment.
Some helpful tips for caregivers include:
- Learning about the condition: The more caregivers know about psoriasis, the more they can help.
- Asking the person with psoriasis what they need: Those with the condition may have many needs, so it could be easy to overlook something that is especially important to them.
- Organizing medical information: Keep an up-to-date file that includes the individual’s medical history, allergies, and medications, along with their insurance contact information and legal documents.
- Practicing self-care: As being a caregiver can be physically and mentally taxing, someone in this role can benefit from taking steps to protect their own health. These may include eating a nutritious diet, joining a caregiver support group, and staying active, as well as taking breaks and asking for help.
Some people with psoriasis may benefit from joining a psoriasis support group. These groups may help reduce the negative self-image and other effects of the condition that can adversely affect mental health. Below are some options:
Living with psoriasis can present unique challenges that may make certain aspects of life more difficult. However, taking steps to promote overall health and manage the condition can help people maintain a good quality of life.
The most effective strategies will likely vary among individuals, but they may include adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, practicing self-care, and attending support groups.