Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition wherein the patient recurringly experiences itchy and scaly skin with small, reddish bumps. Psoriasis can manifest only on the face for some people and it can affect the entire body in others. However, the majority of the people suffering from Psoriasis complain about itchy and scaly skin on their scalp, chest, knees and elbows.
The causes of Psoriasis are still unclear. However, many studies suggest that problems in the immune system can trigger the disease. Research by Sugiyama H, Gyulai R et al, shows that activated T-cells promote the release of cytokines by affecting the immune system. Such autoimmune response where the cytokines prompt the skin cells to produce and mature at a faster rate leads to Psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects approximately 7.5 million of people in the United States. According to the statistics provided by the World Psoriasis Day Consortium, 2%-3% of the world population is suffering from Psoriasis. Approximately 60% of Psoriatic patients report difficulties in managing their everyday activities due to the disease, and a vast majority of the Psoriatic patients feel that Psoriasis affects their quality of life.
Psoriasis cannot be cured, but there are several effective treatments that can provide relief to Psoriatic patients. It is often difficult for people with Psoriasis to manage their skin. Fortunately, there are several skin care tips that Psoriatic patients can follow to keep their skin healthy.
Skin care tips for Psoriasis
1. Moisturize the skin
Psoriatic patients often experience dry and flaky skin and hence, it is extremely vital for them to hydrate their skin. It has been found that using a ceramide-building moisturizer can lock in the moisture in the skin. During hot days, one may use moisturizing lotions that get absorbed into the skin faster.
During winters, people with Psoriatic skin can opt for ointment based moisturizers that are thicker than lotions in texture for extra hydration. Alternatively, to combat dry and scaly skin during summer, one can use humidifiers in their homes so that their skin retains moisture and stays supple.
2. Avoid using harsh products
Any skin care products such as creams, lotions and body sprays containing alcohol, salicylic acid, lactic acid or glycolic acid and perfumed laundry products can irritate the Psoriatic skin. Hence, it is advisable to choose best skin care products carefully to avoid aggravating the skin condition. Extreme care should also be taken while purchasing clothes as rough garment texture can rub the skin causing red bumps and inflammation.
3. Avoid hot baths
Psoriatic patients should avoid taking hot showers as hot water irritates their sensitive skin. Instead of hot baths, Psoriatic patients can take warm baths to soothe the itchy skin. Some suitable essential oils, ground oatmeal or Epsom salt can help in mild exfoliation of the dry skin when added to the warm bath.
Using loofah or rubbing the wet skin from a towel can aggravate the inflammation. Instead of rubbing the wet skin, one can gently pat it dry with a soft towel. Cold compresses are found to be very effective for painful and itchy spots on the Psoriatic skin as well.
4. Refrain from scratching or picking the skin
It is natural to scratch or pick itchy skin, but in Psoriatic patients, scratching an itchy spot can cause tiny tears in the skin which can promote bacterial infection and worsen the skin’s condition.
• Trim the nails to avoid tears in the skin
• Consult with a doctor who will prescribe an antihistamine to control the itching
• Be mindful and avoid scratching or picking your skin. You can also dab some moisturizer when your skin is extremely itchy
5. Watch your diet and lifestyle habits
Balanced nutrition with foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, olive oil and nuts) can provide relief to Psoriatic skin. Refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol can help Psoriatic patients to stay hydrated and healthy. Drinking alcohol is found to be dangerous when Psoriatic patients are receiving treatment for Psoriasis. And nicotine content in the cigars is known to worsen the dry and scaly patches in smokers who have Psoriasis. Following these diet and healthy lifestyle tips will help Psoriatic patients manage their conditions much more effectively.
6. Manage stress
According to many studies, increased levels of stress can cause havoc on skin. Similarly, stress can also worsen the skin condition in Psoriatic patients. A high level of anxiety and stress is found to cause Psoriatic outbreaks in people with the disease. Managing stress should be an important part of the Psoriatic skin care routine.
• Stress can be managed better with regular physical exercises. Also, as per a study, vigorous physical activity can reduce incidents of Psoriasis
• De-stressing activities like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga can significantly reduce stress
• Avoiding processed foods and foods with a high sugar content can combat stress
Psoriatic skin is very difficult to manage. It is vital for Psoriatic patients to moisturize their skin and avoid harsh skin care products. Consuming junk food, smoking and drinking alcohol should be avoided to maintain the skin health for Psoriasis sufferers. Consuming a balanced diet and managing stress can go a long way in managing Psoriatic skin as well.