Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes red, itchy scaling on various areas of the body and scalp, and it affects more than 7.5 million Americans. While there is no cure for the condition, if you have psoriasis, there are ways to help keep it under control. Begin by seeing a healthcare professional, then prevent future flare-ups by avoiding these habits.
1. Not Treating Dry Skin
If your skin is dry, your psoriasis symptoms may worsen. Dryness often contributes to the scaly patches and itchiness. Combat dryness by using moisturizers. Be sure to choose those that are dermatologist tested and approved.
When your skin becomes excessively dry during the wintertime, keep your living environment comfortable by raising humidity levels in the home. You can do so with the use of a humidifier. Houseplants may also help raise humidity in the home.
Also, avoid taking long, hot baths or showers. Although a long, hot shower or soak in the tub may feel relaxing on a cold day, the hot water may irritate your inflamed skin and dry it out further. Keep the water temperature moderate and limit your time in the tub.
2. Scratching or Picking at Skin Plaques
Patches from psoriasis are referred to plaques. When your psoriasis plaques causes itching and scaling, it may be tempting to scratch or even pick at the patches. But you should avoid scratching and picking, as this behavior could cause scarring, irritation or possible infection. Be gentle with your already irritated skin. If your skin itches, take a lukewarm oatmeal bath, which may be soothing.
In addition, you should ask your physician what medication you can use. Preparations, either over-the-counter or by prescription, may soothe the itchiness and prevent you from scratching. Some medications may also help promote healing. By the same token, if you take certain prescription medications, ask your healthcare provider if they may be making your psoriasis symptoms worse.
3. Stressing Out
Studies show that being under stress can increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation may worsen your psoriasis symptoms. While most everyone experiences stress at some time or another, being overly stressed out is detrimental for those with psoriasis.
If you feel you need to chill out, consider a professional massage. Massage can be therapeutic and very relaxing. Investing in an at-home massage unit can be beneficial as well. Also, find ways to relax and escape everyday tension. Listen to music you enjoy, go for a walk, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
Do activities you enjoy or find a relaxing hobby. You might also find that meditation helps ease stress as well.
4. Not Controlling Your Weight
If you are overweight, it's a good idea to lose weight sensibly. Studies show that being overweight may contribute to psoriasis flare-ups. Not only will losing extra weight be best for your overall health, but you may notice your psoriasis symptoms improve as well.
Ask your doctor what your target weight should be, then eat sensibly and exercise. Never begin a diet and exercise regimen without the approval from your doctor.
5. Continuing to Smoke Cigarettes
Studies show there is a connection between smoking and psoriasis. Smoking cigarettes may lead to flare-ups of your condition. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, and nicotine has an effect on the immune system. Therefore, if you smoke, you should quit.
Once you kick the nicotine habit, you may notice your an improvement of your skin. Be mindful of secondhand smoke, however. Try to avoid being around others while they are smoking.
If the condition of your skin and scalp does not improve after ditching the above bad habits, seek professional medical help. Schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers at NEON who can evaluate your condition and implement a treatment plan.