Flare-ups can last months – and then it can just clear up on its own.
You may feel fine one day, and have a flare-up the very next one, with no warning.
When you get frustrated, it’s important to remember these two facts:
1. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can help.
2. While a flare-up may sometimes appear out of nowhere, there are triggers, as well. Once you identify your triggers, living with psoriasis can become easier.
What Is Psoriasis
Psoriasis may look like just a rash or eczema, but it’s actually a very different diagnosis. It’s an immune disease that affects approximately 7.5 million people.
Which means, unlike some other rashes, it’s not contagious at all.
Your immune system starts attacking healthy cells, rather than germs or other threats. The result is patches of dry, flaky, itchy skin, known as flares.
And yes, sometimes the flares are small and unobtrusive. Unfortunately, though, other times the patches are large, uncomfortable, and often embarrassing.
So let’s look at the ways to make living with psoriasis less uncomfortable – physically and emotionally.
How to Prevent Flares
Treating a flare is great – but ideally, you’ll want to minimize how often they happen in the first place. So let’s start with ways to prevent flares.
1. Moisturize. Living with psoriasis means your skin is dry and scaly anyway. Don’t make it worse by forgetting to moisturize. Apply a thick, creamy lotion liberally and frequently for best results.
2. Invest in a humidifier. Along with moisturizing, help keep your skin hydrated by using a humidifier, especially in winter. Dry air caused by running your heater can dehydrate your skin, making it easier for a flare to develop. Which leads into…
3. Avoid cold, dry climates as much as possible. Very few people living with psoriasis have the ability to control where they live. However, if you’re given a choice, consider a tropical beach or salt water beach vacation over a winter ski hill. Salt water naturally heals your flares. And if you are lucky enough to choose where you live, opt for more humid areas.
4. Enjoy the sun – cautiously. Since you’re moving to the tropics anyway – and even if you’re not really – limited sun exposure can provide relief from psoriasis flares. But you have to be cautious, because too much sun exposure can cause a flare. Stick to no more than twenty minutes at a time, and be sure to use an all-natural sunscreen.
5. Avoid some medications. Some popular medications for very common conditions can cause a breakout. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any prescriptions, over the counter medications, or supplements you’re taking.
6. Maintain overall health. You know all those healthy steps you’re supposed to take, like eating properly and exercising and getting enough sleep? Not only will those help keep you healthy, they’ll make living with psoriasis easier, too.
7. Cut out sugar. You may have already limited added sugar and desserts as a way to improve your overall health, but to help treat psoriasis, you need to take it a step further. Cut out ALL sugar, including natural sugars like fruit and honey. It isn’t easy, but many people living with psoriasis find it worthwhile.
8. Try milk thistle supplements. People swear by the supplement form of this purple little flower to help treat psoriasis. It can help with liver function, detoxification, and slow or prevent inflammation.
9. Relax. Some people who have psoriasis have linked stress to flare ups. Pay attention to how often you have a breakout and how stressed you were in the few days leading up to it. You may learn that stress is a trigger for you, as well. Which brings us to our last one…
10. Learn your own triggers. Yes, there are some common triggers that you should look out for. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only triggers. And just because no one’s ever heard of something triggering a flare doesn’t mean it isn’t doing so. If you realize your psoriasis gets worse after eating a food, wearing a material, or exposed to a chemical, then avoid that food, material, or chemical. When it comes to living with psoriasis, you know your body best!
How to Treat and Soothe Flares
There is no cure for psoriasis, so in spite of your best efforts, you’re probably going to have flares. Here’s how to care for them when they happen.
1. Resist the urge to scratch and pick. Psoriasis itches. As anyone who lives with psoriasis will tell you, the urge to scratch is powerful. But it’s important that you don’t do either, as they can make the breakout worse. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do though…
2. Apply lotion and cover. Spread an unusually thick layer of your favorite lotion over the flare and cover it with plastic wrap from the kitchen. Leave it for a few hours. When you remove it, some of the dry scales should come off, as well.
3. Apple cider vinegar compress. To help soothe, dilute apple cider vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio. Soak a washcloth in the mixture then apply it. The antibacterial properties of the apple cider vinegar will help ease the itch.
4. Aloe vera. Aloe vera plants are sold at many grocery stores, home improvement stores, and nurseries. If you’re living with psoriasis, you might want to consider picking one up! It can help cool the redness caused by psoriasis and even help with scaling and peeling. If you aren’t interested in having a plant, you can buy 100% aloe vera gel at most drugstores, too.
5. Bathe in Epsom salts or colloidal oatmeal. The key to this treatment for psoriasis is to make sure the bath water is tepid. Too hot, and it might irritate your skin further. Too cold and you won’t be able to stay in long enough. Then sprinkle in Epsom salts or colloidal oatmeal (you can buy it from a drugstore or make your own by grinding oats very fine) into the water and dissolve.
6. Dry off properly. When you’re living with psoriasis, even drying off after a bath or a shower needs to be deliberate. Be sure not to rub the towel over your skin, but pat dry. This will prevent irritating your skin, which can make a flare worse, or even trigger a new one.
Yes, living with psoriasis is an annoyance, and we’re not about to try and convince you otherwise. But it doesn’t have to be all-consuming.
You’ve got a life to live, so go live it – with these sixteen ways to prevent and treat psoriasis.